Sacbee Voices: Letters To The Editor

Sacbee Voices: Letters To The Editor
Posted by FoM on November 08, 1999 at 13:07:53 PT
Bee Editorials 
Source: Sacramento Bee
The Oct. 27 editorial "Prescription for pain," regarding the Pain Relief Promotion Act, was misleading and misguided. For the first time, the federal government positively states that aggressive efforts to control pain are legitimate, even if they hasten death, so long as they are not done for the purpose of causing death. 
In so doing, the legislation increases the Drug Enforcement Agency's burden of proof for revoking a doctor's registration to prescribe controlled substances. The legislation further protects doctors by establishing a medical advisory board to review such actions. This bill emphasizes good palliative care and authorizes $5 million for the research of pain management.The assertion that the bill is not supported by medical providers was a serious misrepresentation. In fact this bill has been endorsed by the American Medical Association, the National Hospice Organization, the American Academy of Pain Management and others.Christine CipperlySacramentoRespect Life CoordinatorCatholic Diocese of SacramentoStop The WarRe "Legalize drugs?" editorial, Oct. 29: Yes, an action that is long overdue. The so-called "drug war" has been a multibillion-dollar failure with nothing but minor skirmishes to show for the decades-long effort. In the meantime, thousands of lives have been lost, in it and from it.Legalization would remove "big money," and all that it buys, from the playing field. It could also enable identification of users, provide for education of would-be users and, as The Bee editorial stated, provide users "treatment instead of prison ... health care and after school programs." Only then can "the war on drugs" claim a true victory.Peter Boyes Rancho MurietaThe editorial asking for some middle ground between legalization of all drugs and the current failing policies of the drug war approach is right on the glidepath. Considering the chronic failure of the drug war, there is no rational reason to continue to pursue criminal prosecutions against Americans who choose to use illicit drugs. A reasonable first step toward a sensible, compassionate and effective drug policy is to recognize that not all presently illicit drugs are the same. Decriminalization of marijuana and the so-called psychedelics is warranted because these nonaddictive substances are mostly harmless, especially when compared to alcohol. Removing the criminal penalties for the use, possession or cultivation of these nontoxic plants would allow our society to allocate more resources toward the very real problems created by the users and sellers of the extremely addictive drugs such as heroin or methamphetamines.Stephen Konnoff SacramentoHooray for editorial on the statement of Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico calling for legalization of illegal drugs. This is not a new idea. Anyone interested can visit the Schaffer Library to read material that reveals: Pursuant to recommendations of a royal commission comprising eminent doctors and lawyers, in 1926 England adopted a policy of authorizing medical doctors to provide (at government expense) maintenance doses of drugs to addicts. England has revisited the issue periodically and always reaffirmed the basic policy, with some minor adjustments. The Swiss and Dutch follow similar policies. In the United States, there have been several "blue ribbon" commissions that reached similar conclusions. But there are important semantic distinctions to make. England does not "legalize" addictive drugs per se. It merely authorizes medical doctors to administer maintenance doses. It treats addictive drugs as a medical problem. This takes the profit out of drugs, which eliminates the addict's need to become a drug pusher to support his habit.The editorial cites 400,000 drug-users in U.S. prisons. I hear that it costs $50,000 per year to maintain a single prisoner. That's $20 billion to add to the $18 billion war on drugs budget, or a total of $38 billion we now spend on a drug policy that is clearly a failure.Sam Timmons AuburnRe "A rare candor on drugs from New Mexico's governor," Op-Ed, Oct. 18: So a "conservative Republican," New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, has taken a look at our expensive, long war on drugs and found it wanting. The only positive outcome of this war so far has been that it created many jobs. The governor suggests "control, regulate, tax, educate and prevent." Too bad he is not running for office in our state; we could use a man of his courage and common sense.Nora Birkenstock SacramentoThe criminalization of what is a social problem has resulted in filling our jails with drug users. Legalization with the controls suggested by Johnson, along with supporting mental and health-care facilities, would do away with almost all the crimes associated with the drug business.The silly remarks by Gen. Barry McCaffrey certainly illustrate why a military man should not be put in charge of dealing with a social problem. He is part of the problem, not the solution.James G. Updegraff SacramentoNew Mexico's governor joins a growing chorus of influential leaders in publicly declaring our policy of criminalizing drug use as an absolute failure. The article goes on to cite the gross disproportionality of punishment meted out to African Americans vs. whites in sentencing as well as dubious distinctions Congress makes in sentencing guidelines based on whether the drug in question (cocaine) was powder or crack.While the practical effort of drug-war racism cannot be overlooked, an even more compelling aspect is the violence surrounding African American and Latino inner-city communities as a result of dealers and their customers settling commercial disputes with deadly weapons.In the end, when prohibitionists tire of arguing facts and statistics that they can no longer ignore, they will tell you that this is a moral issue. They are dead right. And that is exactly why government shouldn't be involved. The drug problem in this country belongs in the province of the medical profession, not the criminal-justice system.Michael Vaughan SacramentoDrug War Punishment:Re "Ex-inmate details his rape in prison," Oct. 20: The suit by Eddie Dillard against the Department of Corrections demonstrates once again the folly of punishing sale or use of "drugs" in the same manner as we punish crimes against property or crimes of violence. This practice not only violates human rights, but is a great waste of money and human lives. How much better if the "drugs" were available from legal sources. Then a person such as Dillard would have to work for a living instead of selling "drugs." Then we wouldn't have to support him in prison and his family on welfare. Then many of our "correctional officers" could get real jobs.Philip S. Kearney Sacramento Letters Policy:Please include your name, address and phone number.All letters are subject to editing.MAIL: P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA95852-0779E-MAIL: opinion sacbee.comNewshawk: Jean CowsertCopyright  The Sacramento Bee Related Articles:Gov. Explains Drug Stand to Students - 11/04/99 Panelist Praise Governor's Drug Stance - 11/03/99
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: