The War on Drugs has Gone to the Dogs.
(Printed in the Towanda Daily Review on Septemper 6, 1998. The title above was not the title used by the paper.)
Your editorial of August 30, 1998 urges the use of dogs to search our schools for illicit drugs. Why stop there? Why not do exactly what the supporters of our War on Drugs continue to do? The standing order for this ill conceived "war" seems to be, "If it doesn't work, let's do more of it."
So don't stop at just dogs. Institute strip searches; body cavity searches; if they won't talk, beat it out of them; search cars in the school parking lot; raid homes. And amazingly, even if these extreme measures are implemented, drugs will still be available. Why? It's the money, stupid. The "war" has made the sale of illegal drugs so profitable that replacement suppliers and supplies will always be available. Haven't any of our officials or editorialists heard of the success of Prohibition? How about if we incarcerate everyone? That won't work either. Illegal drugs are readily available even behind bars.
Instead of a "war", how about the truth. Annually in the U.S., 8,000 to 14,000 people die from illegal drugs. Yet fifty times this number, one-half million deaths annually in the U.S., are attributed to alcohol, tobacco, and prescriptions – all legal, two highly subsidized.
Instead of "just say no", tell them why. There are no controls of the purity or concentration of illegal substances. Contaminants and unknown concentrations could greatly alter the expected effects of any substance.
Instead of jailing addicts, treat them. The "war" has taken a medical problem (addiction), and exchanged it for a criminal one. The crime and violence attributed to the drug problem is directly attributable to the "war".
The "War" is the problem. After thirty years and almost one trillion dollars, it has achieved no reduction in illegal drug abuse or distribution. Dogs won't solve it. Jail won't solve it. And editorials encouraging more of the same won't solve it either.
John L. Ferri