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Reagan's Fight Against Drugs

August 18, 1986

With all due respect, the six broad goals that President Reagan outlined in his anti-drug crusade are only the latest of such pronouncements that are doomed to failure, because the basic premise of what the problem really is is either unrecognized or unaccepted.

The six goals deal with the effects of drugs and not the cause. Drug-free schools and drug-free workplaces are as commendable as mom and apple pie. Drug treatment is closing the barn door after the horse is out. How much more public awareness of the dangers of drug abuse are needed, especially after the two recent deaths that were so well publicized of young athletes in their prime? Finally, punishment of peddlers and "big guys" who deal in drugs as well as international cooperation have so far resulted in minimal success despite maximal efforts in this regard.

What is needed is an appreciation that the war on drugs will never succeed by an attack on its effects, which are in the areas of crime and human behavior.

What is needed is an appreciation of the fact that an anti-drug crusade must recognize the problem for what it is. It is a problem of big business. It is a multibillion-dollar international business. How does a business survive, continue, thrive and grow? It is very simple. A business survives, continues, thrives and grows in direct relationship to the profits it makes. A business in the red either folds and goes bankrupt, or if it is deemed in the national interest for the business not to become extinct, it is rescued by a federal government bail-out.

Let us hopefully assume that it is not deemed in the national interest for the drug business to continue. Therefore, it is necessary to cut the profits of the drug business and make it go bankrupt. One way would be to provide a similar product that is both cheaper and better. Another way would be to tax it out of business, which would, of course, require its legalization in order to submit it to tax regulation and imposition. Yet another way would be to provide a safer and more effective alternative.

What are needed to win the war on drugs are measures that are consistent with the basic cause of the war, which is a profit-driven big business problem and not measures dealing with the results, effects and symptoms of the business problem such as crime and abusive human behavior.

SYLVAIN FRIBOURG

Woodland Hills

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