Letter to the Editor: ‘The real drug problem’

I have a short quiz for Jamie Papateros [sic]*.

1) When were these drugs originally outlawed?

2) Why were they outlawed?

3) Describe the situation immediately before and immediately after they were outlawed.

4) What is heroin? Why is heroin illegal while morphine is used routinely in medicine?

5) How many people are killed by drugs in the U.S. in a typical year? Include the figures for alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs and Tylenol.

6) In the past 100 years, there have been at least a dozen major government commissions that have studied drug laws around the world and made recommendations for dealing with the problem. Name any of them and describe what they said.

OK, now that Jamie flunked the test with a zero, it is time to do some homework. Jamie can find all the answers to the above questions at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer. Jamie is obviously new to the subject, so start with the Consumers Union Report on Licit and Illicit Drugs at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/cu/cumenu.htm and the short history of the marijuana laws at http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm.

In 1973, President Nixon’s U.S. National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse completed the largest study of the drug problem ever done. At the end of their study, they said that the real drug problem was not marijuana, or heroin, or cocaine. The real drug problem, they said, was the ignorance of the people who were recommending solutions but had never bothered to read the most basic research on the subject.

It is time for Jamie to follow her [sic] own advice.

— Clifford A. Schaffer
Director, Schaffer Library of Drug Policy

The writer’s organization supports the decriminalization of drugs.

*[Sic] means to show that a quoted passage, especially one containing some error or something questionable, is precisely reproduced.

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