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Barry McCaffrey

June 02, 1996

* Your May 28 editorial, "New Drug Czar Aims to Spare This Generation," echoes the wishful thinking that has been displayed by many of our so-called leaders subsequent to retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey's being named as drug czar. Pretending that the good general will have any effect at all on drug use or availability is a cruel hoax on the public. It prolongs this useless drug war to the detriment of our nation.

McCaffrey will be no more effective at ending the "war on drugs" than his ineffective predecessors Lee Brown and William Bennett. Your own chart shows that 15 years of chasing, punishing and incarcerating drug users has not slowed use or emergency room admissions one iota. How many more arrests will help end the drug war? Incarcerating users is simply a waste of resources.

If we really want to end the violence and horror stories associated with illicit drug use, we must research viable alternatives to prohibition. Prohibition will never work effectively in a free country. Drugs are not the problem. Less than 5,000 people die as a result of illicit drug overdose in this country each year. How many die as a result of unnecessary drug-related violence? How many have their lives ruined by long prison sentences? The harm we are doing is much worse than the disease we are trying to cure.

MARK GREER

Porterville

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