Curbing Drug Abuse in the United States

Rep. Charles B. Rangel's opinion-page article "Drugs: The Unforgotten War," March 22, is well-meaning, but a bit uninformed in its recommendation for improving the president's National Drug Control Strategy. For instance, he says Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan should "advocate expansion of, as well as accountability for, federally funded drug treatment." The president's 1991 Drug Control Strategy says the administration "will again ask Congress to pass legislation that would hold States accountable for the hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal treatment funds provided them."

The other suggestions for improved leadership in the drug war - model school curricula, job training for ex-addicts, and making narcotics control a top priority of our foreign policy agenda, for example - are also found in the administration's strategy.

The administration faced a tough battle in Congress last year getting federal drug treatment and prevention programs funded. This year, we face the same tough fight. The president has again asked for sizable treatment and prevention increases. We hope to see Representative Rangel on our side in the coming months.

David Tell, Washington, Office of National Drug Control Policy

As a chaplain at two VA hospitals and a county jail, I am familiar with the results of drug abuse on the individual. Therefore, I was most interested in the article concerning a realistic assessment of our drug policy. Our drug laws seem unenforceable, just as Prohibition was finally recognized as impracticable. Drug enforcement has put insupportable strains on our justice system and our jail and prison facilities. With most federal antidrug money going to enforcement measures, our drug treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention programs are inadequate.

To me, the only answer is to legalize drugs, which would take the great profit out of drug dealing and bring drugs into a normal supply-and-demand market. The criminal element in the drug scene would largely be eliminated, and efforts could focus on reducing demand through treatment, rehabilitation, and prevention.

Lawrence A. Campbell, Los Angeles

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