Monday, March 12, 2007

Time to Try Different Approach

My good friend and fellow drug policy reformer, Dawn Palmer, had the following LTE published in the Birmingham News over the weekend. WAY TO GO DAWN!!!

I'd like to encourage everyone in Alabama who reads this to write a response in support of Dawn's letter. LTE's are a very effective and FREE way to bring attention to our issues. The editorial page is the most widely read page of any paper anywhere.

Time to try different approach

I am writing this in response to the article concerning the $3.5 million in marijuana seized recently near Leeds. I think Jefferson County Sheriff Sgt. Randy Christian wrapped up this war on drugs in a nutshell. He said, "It's a cat-and-mouse game. We catch one mouse, and there is another rat ready to take its place."

I think we have lost this war. We need to try another approach. Did we not try another approach with alcohol prohibition? Ending prohibition didn't stop alcohol use, but it cut out the killing from the black market and the deaths from dirty alcohol that was produced for a high profit.

Drugs and alcohol are not going to go away. Let's take a more compassionate approach and let the medical professionals, not the criminal justice system, deal with these problems. This would be a more productive approach economically and socially.

According to an article in the Council on Foreign Relations publication, next year's budget on the war on drugs is expected to be about $12.7 billion. Roughly 65 percent of this sum will be spent on "source control," or supply control, with the remaining 35 percent going toward treatment and prevention. This doesn't even count the money we spend on incarceration and the building of more prisons and jails.

Wouldn't you think we could redirect this money and use it for free health care for all citizens? I think we have had enough war, especially war against our own people. It's time for a different approach.

Dawn Palmer


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