Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 12, 2007

Time for cease-fire in failed drug war

Every bit of data about the drug war indicates that it is a colossal failure ("Data show war on drugs failing as cocaine gets cheaper, purer," May 5).

From 1995 to 2005, the federal drug war budget rose 79 percent.

During that time, the number of people in the United States who had used drugs in the past year rose 55 percent, drug-induced mortality went up 116 percent, drug arrests went up 25 percent and drug rehab admissions went up 22 percent.

It's time to stop persecuting people over their choice of intoxicant, legalize all these drugs and sell them through a regulated market.

We have absolutely no chance of ever achieving a "drug-free" America for one simple reason: "Just say no" didn't even work in the Garden of Eden.

All that Prohibition II has done is make the drug problem in this country far worse than it otherwise would have been, which is just what happened in the case of alcohol prohibition.

It is a sign of intelligence to learn from experience, and a sign of insanity to repeat the same activity over and over and expect a different result.

So on the drug war, are we stupid or crazy?

Brian C. Bennett

North Garden, Va.

The writer is a statistical analyst and researcher for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Legalization is key to curbing crime

The war on drugs was lost before it began ("Data show war on drugs failing as cocaine gets cheaper, purer," May 5).

No matter how much money we throw down the drug war rat hole, we will never be able to nullify the immutable law of supply and demand.

As long as people want recreational drugs and are willing to pay a substantial price for them, somebody will produce these drugs and somebody will get them to the willing buyers.

This we can guarantee.

And almost all of our so-called drug-related crime is caused by our drug prohibition policies - not the drugs themselves.

If we legalized all our illegal drugs so that they could be sold by licensed and regulated businesses for pennies per dose, would this eliminate our drug problems? No.

However, doing so would substantially reduce the crime rate and increase public safety.

Will we ever be able to eliminate our drug problems? No.

However, we can substantially reduce the harm caused by our illegal drugs.

Regulated and controlled drugs would be of known purity, known potency and known quality - which would make them very different from today's black-market drugs.

But what message would we send to children if we legalized all illegal drugs so they could be sold in licensed, regulated and taxed business establishments?

The same message we send to children today when we allow products such as alcohol and tobacco to be sold in licensed, regulated and taxed business establishments.

A free country's government cannot protect its adult citizens from themselves.

A free country's government has no right to attempt to do so.

Kirk Muse

Mesa, Ariz.

Big-screen smoking is a threat to kids

Maryland Attorney General Doug F. Gansler is right to take Hollywood to task for depicting the use of tobacco products in movies ("Gansler fights smoking in films," May 4).

For too long, Hollywood has glamorized smoking, even as the general public has become more aware of the death and disease associated with it.

Yet the tobacco industry continues to try to lure potential customers by promoting smoking on the big screen before the millions of children who see the movies each year that depict smoking.

Because most smokers try their first cigarette before age 18, it is imperative that we protect children from the predatory advertising practices of the tobacco industry.

With cooperation from motion picture studios and their trade association, we can put more safeguards in place to prevent teenagers from engaging in this destructive habit.

Mr. Gansler's leadership in protecting the health of our children is to be commended.

Stephen Peregoy

Hunt Valley

The writer is president and CEO of the American Lung Association of Maryland.

An individual right to gun ownership

The Sun's article "U.S. gun-rights theory evolving" (May 5) only perpetuates the idea that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees not an individual but a collective right of "the people" to "keep and bear arms."

However, in all other instances where rights of "the people" are mentioned in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, it is almost universally accepted that "the people" refers to individual citizens.

It would be torturing logic to assert that in this one instance - the arms clause of the Second Amendment - such language refers to a collective right.

It is obvious, at least to this student of the Constitution, that if the intent of the Founding Fathers had been solely to guarantee the provisioning of a militia, there would be no need to mention "the people" in the Second Amendment at all; in fact, the arms clause would have been unnecessary.

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