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Drug War

September 14, 1988

Has significant progress been made by the Reagan Administration during the past seven years in winning the war on illicit drugs? Your editorial suggests at best a stalemate and that "the real answer to the problems proposed by cocaine and other illegal drugs lies not in cutting off the supply but in limiting the demand."

We need to do both. We must continually make vigorous efforts to cut off the supply of illicit drugs, and at the same time do everything possible to reduce escalating personal-user demands. The latter is the driving force for the drug industry, which in 1983 was reported to have made a profit of almost $80 billion. Currently, gross profits are estimated to be $100 billion a year in illegal drugs.

Americans consider the use of illegal drugs to be one of the most important problems facing our country. We spend more than $4 billion a year fighting the so-called war on drugs. Federal programs include: interdicting drugs crossing our borders; expanding the role of the military, including use of ships and aircraft; killing crops of coca leaf (cocaine) and marijuana plants by spraying, culling or burning; imposing stiff jail sentences and fines on drug kingpins and dealers, and finally, and most important for the future of our country, the education of our children about the dangers in the use of illicit drugs. In addition, the U.S. Congress is currently considering the approval of a new $1.3-billion omnibus drug bill. Where are we headed? If we are not winning the war on drugs, why not?

Democrat Michael S. Dukakis and Republican George Bush should debate drug-related issues and thereby help the electorate decide which of the candidates is best qualified to lead the nation in solving a most troublesome, complex and tragic nationwide problem.

GEORGE R. LARKE

Los Angeles

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