It's drug prohibition that's the source of the expense...

February 11, 2000

It's drug prohibition that's the source of the expense, violence

In their recent column, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Dan Morhaim wrote: "Substance abuse . . . costs the state an estimated $5.5 billion a year." ("State must take charge on drug addiction," Opinion Commentary, Feb. 1)

They should have said that it is the failed policy of drug prohibition, not substance abuse itself, that costs the state $5.5 billion a year.

The authors gave lip service to drug treatment, but didn't note that the state's budget allots two-thirds of drug-related funds to law enforcement and prisons.

Recently, The Sun published a list of names of the people murdered in Baltimore in 1999. Most of them were victims of turf battles brought about by the huge monetary incentives drug prohibition produces ("Homicides 1999: What went wrong?" editorial, Jan. 4)

Among them was the name of my oldest friend, who was killed over a dispute involving his prescription pain medication. Had prohibition not been in effect, his pills would have been worth pennies, rather than being more valuable than gold, and he would be here today.

New Mexico's governor, Gary Johnson, has shown great courage in taking a stand against drug prohibition (("A lonely stand for drug legalization," Oct. 24, 1999).

Why can't politicians here in Maryland show a semblance of a backbone and admit that prohibition will never work?

William Smith


Suburbanites are part of the city's drug problem

The three men described in The Sun's article "Kingpin drug law is applied to 3 men" (Feb. 3) all live in counties surrounding Baltimore.

Two of the men were arrested by Baltimore's new police commissioner for soliciting illegal drugs on a snowed-in city street. They had braved the weather to drive into the city for drugs.

Perhaps residents of surrounding counties who look at Baltimore as the source of the region's drug problem, should also look at their neighbors.

Chris Pabst


Shovels combat snow better than lawn chairs

Some people from colder climates have complained about the city's response to the recent snows ("A visitor who was shocked by condition of area streets," letters, Feb. 5).

As a recent transplant to Baltimore, I think the city's Department of Public Works has done an admirable job under the circumstances.

The citizens of Baltimore, however, have much to learn about civic duty. Neither businesses or individuals have adequately cleared their sidewalks.

Near my home, for example, most businesses have plowed their parking lots into the sidewalks, including one 6-foot snow bank that forces pedestrians out into the traffic on Cold Spring Lane.

If we all put as much energy into shoveling the street and walk in front of our houses as we devote to protecting our precious parking spots with lawn chairs, the city would be back to normal by now.

Richard Price


Kids wouldn't learn anything during June make-up days

There has been much talk lately about making up school days lost because of the recent snow ("School snow days," Jan. 28).

But if our goal is to provide quality instructional time for students, extending the school year an extra week in June will not meet this objective.

Despite teachers' best efforts, these make-up days would be anything but quality instructional time. Schools without air-conditioning would be hot and students would already be in a summer mentality. Many of them would stop coming altogether.

We should seek to make better use of the days students have left at school, rather than worrying about them being in school for 180 days.

Amy Wilson


It's only a few fanatics who keep Elian in America

While I generally enjoy KAL's editorial cartoons, his Jan. 27 drawing "Elian Gonzales Speaks" completely distorts the issue at hand.

The cartoon depicts Uncle Sam and Fidel Castro playing tug-of-war over Elian, with the boy essentially saying it doesn't matter where he ends up, because both countries can behave like 6-year-olds.

I feel KAL is completely missing the point here.

The official position of the United States is that Elian should rightfully be returned to his father. This position is further supported by a majority of the American people, as well as by the U.S. attorney general and President Clinton.

To suggest that this is a struggle between the United States and Cuba is false and misleading.

The reality is that a small group of well-organized fanatics, who have a vendetta against Fidel Castro, is holding Elian hostage to advance their political views.

One can only wonder how such a powerful country as the United States could allow its laws and moral obligations to be trampled by such a small community of expatriates with an axe to grind.

Joseph Delia


Elian's mother gave her life so he could live in freedom

The Sun's editorial "The future of a little boy" (Jan. 29) neglected to mention a critical element in the upcoming decision about whether Elian Gonzalez should be allowed to remain in the United States.

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