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Administration's War on Drugs

November 13, 1986

Re the Reagan Administration's "war on drugs:"

There is a tapeworm in the belly of America. It is a wretched gnawing beast that threatens to consume our spirit, character and freedom. Oddly, the tapeworm is not drugs. The voracious beast consists of the harmful effects of the very laws designed to control drugs.

Sadly, the effect has been the reverse of what was intended. In the effort to control drugs, whether it be through foreign policies, an overblown network of police, or through overcrowded "crime schools," we are turning our country into an armed camp.

Through misguided drug laws, we cause the quality of street drugs to fluctuate wildly, which is the cause of most drug-related overdose deaths. We have created and perpetuated many billions of dollars in crime. We encourage countless drug-related acts of violence.

Organized crime is subsidized. The law enforcement agencies are corrupted. Billions are thrown down the drain on useless methods of drug control. Illicit drugs are made into outrageously expensive status symbols. We are trying to control the uncontrollable by legislating morality. It is a travesty of our freedom.

The solution cuts across all political lines and is very simple:

Legalize all drugs and make them available to any adult at any drug store for a nominal fee. Then take a tiny fraction of the countless billions saved and educate children from the age of 6 about the dangers of drugs. Eliminate all advertising for drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes, and dispense information for all drug consumers.

The country is supposedly founded on freedom of choice. Let's leave that choice up to the individual and free all of us from an impossible task.

MICHAEL E. ARTH

Los Angeles

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