A fresh look at drug problem

To the editor:


Headline, Saturday, Dec. 21.

For those of us coming home for the holidays because we work and live in other parts of the country or world, it is disappointing to read about the degree of prevalence of heroin addiction and drug trafficking in the Tri-State Area. Of course, this condition is not unique to this area. While there is little on the local level we can do because this issue is pandemic on a national level, perhaps if enough folks at the grassroots level can agree that something can be done then we might be able to resolve the “War on Drugs,” not by combating the symptoms but by focusing on the disease.

It seems to me there are three common sense ways to reduce crime substantially and, for the most part, eradicate drug addition:

First, have we learned nothing from prohibition? Here is the common sense solution: take the profit motive out of the drug trade by providing heavy drugs to current addicts. If you are a heroin addict, we will provide you with an addiction ID which will allow you to go to your drug store and get your fix at nominal cost or no cost. No need to resort to crime. Furthermore, no need to get new victims addicted.

Second, regulate soft drugs like marijuana, through licensed distribution, tax them and incorporate misuse into the same rubric as alcohol misuse, such as DUI.

Third, establish a program to educate drug entrepreneurs who are serving time for nonviolent drug offenses and make them productive members of society. The number of young, mostly black men, in prison is shameful. How about an education program? Institute an educational program like a college. If you make it to a high school degree in prison, 25 percent of your sentence comes off. At the next level, an AA degree, another 25 percent comes off. A bachelor’s degree and another 25 percent and so forth. Education is the key to success anywhere. It’s a shame to have all these young people living off our tax dollars when they could be contributing to society.

With those three common sense steps, the Mexican drug cartels, the Afghanistani drug lords and the Golden Triangle in Thailand would be out of business fairly quickly. I’m guessing that the crime rate around the country would go down at least 35 percent to 50 percent. Wow, we could actually take a walk at night without fear for our lives or get into our car in the Short Hills Mall in New Jersey without being shot.

What are the impediments? The implementation of these suggestions would of course “break the rice bowls” of the tens of thousands employees who currently make a handsome living running private prisons, enjoy hefty government salaries and pensions as part of the DEA war on drugs and provide a solid earnings stream to all the business that supply goods and services to the drug enforcement industry. Never mind. Forget what I said. Sorry, my mistake.

Pete Sontag