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Opinion: Policing, alone, can never win the war on drugs

Talk of the Town (Louisiana), October 9, 2006

We're losing the war on drugs.  Much has been written concerning society's ever-increasing demand for and abuse of drugs -- whether obtained by prescription or not. Countless man hours and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been poured into the interdiction and prosecutorial processes that accompany this pandemic. Millions more are spent annually to incarcerate those convicted of trafficking, using or possessing illegal drugs.

The intent of this commentary is in no way intended to minimize the collateral damage to individuals and families.

Unfortunately, it appears that even with this massive investment in the war on drugs, we find the situation relatively unchanged at best, with no significant reduction on the supply side of the drug equation. Drugs continue to flow unabated. What would be the net effect if aggressive interdiction suddenly ceased? Would the supply of drugs and the corresponding use reach some equilibrium point?

Or, would the masses proceed to abuse drugs to the point of annihilation? If the later is so, what does this say about the mental and emotional state of our communities and its people?

Should we not now direct additional energies and attention to the underlying causes of our insatiable appetite for drugs? Although axiomatic, without buyers there would soon be no sellers.

Clearly drug abuse is an equal opportunity employer and not a respecter of age, gender, race or social status. Drugs cannot be relegated to the ghetto, but find their way downtown, uptown, across town and out into America's heartland.

The final analysis and solution to this conundrum is rather simple. In the end there are only two classes of people in this supply and demand relationship -- the needy and the greedy.

The greedy are those who for money will exploit the weaknesses of others, and traffic in whatever can be exploited; weapons, dope, false hope, human flesh and destructive thinking.

While the needy are those in need of a sense of self worth, gainful employment, understanding, sincere compassion, a liberating and empowering education, family and Community.

Policing, alone, can never win the war on drugs.

However, if we are willing to personally invest in addressing the needs of one another, we can begin to reduce the demand for drugs.

Christopher Brice, Pineville