Schmoke urges national probe of inner-city drug problems

April 01, 1993|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Staff Writer

Continuing his effort to refocus the battle against drugs, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke called yesterday for a national commission to investigate the drug problems that plague the nation's cities.

Mr. Schmoke issued his call at the American Society of Newspaper Editors' 70th annual convention during a panel discussion on "The Prospects for Cities."

He was joined on the panel by Henry G. Cisneros, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Mayor Stephen Goldsmith of Indianapolis.

"We need to concentrate on changing national drug control policy. We have failed the war on drugs. It is strangling us as a society," he said. "If we were to fight any other war this long with these results, we'd need new generals."

In 1988, during his first year in office, Mr. Schmoke made a controversial proposal to decriminalize drugs. He frequently has discussed the need to re-examine the drug problem as a public health issue.

Last Wednesday, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee rejected legislation to create a needle-exchange pilot program in Baltimore to prevent the spread of AIDS among intravenous drug users. On Friday, Mr. Schmoke said he would ask city officials to look into starting one that can be operated within existing state laws.

Mr. Schmoke said he took his drug-reform message to the nation's newspaper editors, who are meeting in Baltimore this week, in an effort to prod the Clinton administration into making changes in national drug policy.

In particular, he is seeking more federal funding for treatment for drug addicts and less emphasis on criminal penalties.

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