Common Sense Drug Policy Needed

RECEIVED Mon., Aug. 30, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Regarding Jordan Smith's column on mandatory minimums ["Ashcroft Hits the AstroTurf," News, Aug. 27], if harsh penalties served to deter illicit drug use, the elusive goal of a "drug-free" America would have been achieved decades ago. Instead of adding to what is already the highest incarceration rate in the world, we should be funding cost-effective drug treatment. Drug prohibition finances organized crime at home and terrorism abroad, which is then used to justify increased drug war spending.
   It's time to end this madness and instead treat all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is. It's worth noting that tobacco use has declined considerably in recent years. Public education efforts are paying off. Apparently mandatory minimum sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random drug testing, and racial profiling are not necessarily the most cost-effective means of discouraging unhealthy choices.
Robert Sharpe
Arlington, Va.
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
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