After General McCaffrey

After General McCaffrey
Posted by FoM on January 13, 2001 at 08:01:00 PT
Source: Palm Beach Post
The White House Director of National Drug Control Policy got it right in several important areas. He increased spending for prevention and treatment programs, though they still get much less than interdiction; criticized mandatory minimum sentences for people who commit drug-related crimes; supported drug courts and encouraged treatment rather than prison for addicts; and urged insurers to cover treatment for substance abuse and mental illness as they do for other illnesses. 
This month, President Clinton ordered that such coverage be offered to the 9 million federal workers, which will affect other insurers. On the question of whether penalties should be harsher for possessing or selling crack cocaine than for powder cocaine, Gen. McCaffrey correctly broke with Attorney General Janet Reno. They are forms of the same drug and should be treated the same. Ms. Reno supported the status quo, which results in more African-Americans than whites being imprisoned for offenses involving the cheaper crack. On the negative side, Gen. McCaffrey opposed state efforts to make marijuana legal for medical purposes, calling it a "deliberate, well-thought-out strategy by drug legalization forces." In 1997, he threatened physicians with loss of their federal license to prescribe drugs if they recommended marijuana to relieve seriously-ill people's suffering. He opposed clean-needle programs for addicts to prevent the spread of AIDS. Gen. McCaffrey also supported sending $1.3 billion in U.S. aid, much of it military, to Colombia, which is trying to smash the drug operations that fuel the country's civil war and provide most of the cocaine and heroin Americans buy. A military man can be expected to believe in military options. But without demand, how profitable would the drug trade be? Before President Clinton put him in charge of U.S. drug policy, Gen. McCaffrey spent 31 years in the Army and became its most highly decorated general. Yet he found addiction a new and scary adversary, saying, "I doubt I've ever seen in combat the misery I've encountered watching what drug abuse does to people," he said. The antidote? Effective treatment. He's right. The abuse of drugs -- whether alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, amphetamines, heroin or cocaine -- is a public-health problem. In choosing the next drug czar, President-elect Bush should look to the public-health system for a leader who will attack the problem on that battlefield. Note: After five years as the nation's drug czar, Gen. Barry McCaffrey leaves with a mixed record.Source: Palm Beach Post (FL)Published: Saturday, January 13, 2001Copyright: 2001, The Palm Beach PostAddress: P.O. Box 24700, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4700Fax: (561) 820-4728Website: Articles:Drug Czar Self-Congratulations Unmerited Drug Warrior Who Would Rather Treat Than Fight Old Soldier Never Dies, Damnit
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