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101st Congress COMMITTEE PRINT
Ist Session I
LEGALIZATION OF ILLICIT DRUGS:
IMPACT AND FEASIBILITY
(A Review of Recent Hearings)
REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS
ABUSE AND CONTROL
ONE HUNDRED FIRST CONGRESS
Printed for the use of the Select Committee on Narcotics
Abuse and Control
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
96 475 WASHINGTON: 1989
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Congressional
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402
JACK BROOKS, Texas
FORTNEY H. (PETE) STARK, California
JAMES H. SCHEUER, New York
CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois
DANIEL K. AKAKA, Hawaii
FRANK J. GUARINI, New Jersey
DANTE B. FASCELL, Florida
WALTER E. FAUNTROY, District of Columbia
WILLIAM J. HUGHES. New Jersey
MEL LEVINE, California
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
LAWRENCE J. SMITH, Florida
EDOLPHUS "ED" TOWNS, New York
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, JR., Ohio
KWEISI MFUME, Maryland
JOSEPH E. BRENNAN, Maine
NITA M. LOWEY, New York
SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
CHARLES B. RANGEL, New York, Chairman
LAWRENCE COUGHLIN, Pennsylvania
BENJAMIN A. GILMAN, New York
MICHAEL G. OXLEY, Ohio
STAN PARRIS. Virginia
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR., Wisconsin
ROBERT K. DORNAN, California
TOM LEWIS, Florida
JAMES M. INIIOFE, Oklahoma
WALLY HERGER, California
CHRISTOPT4FR L,HAYS, Connecticut
BILL PAXON, New York
BILL GRANT, Florida
EDWARD H. JURITH, Staff Director
ELLioTT A. BROWN, Minority Staff Director
The Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control held a
2day hearing in the 2d session of the 100th Congress to
examine the legalization of all illicit narcotics.
These informational hearings, entitled "Legalization of
Illicit Drugs: Impact and Feasibility," were held in
response to public debate that began in early 1988, after
the mayor of Baltimore told a Washington, DC meeting of
the U.S. Conference of Mayors that existing U.S. drug
policy had failed. The mayor suggested legalization and
decriminalization as possible approaches to solving the
The hearings were designed to consider the seriousness of
a variety of legalization proposals that had been offered
by drug policy observers who, after the Baltimore mayor's
call for a look at legalization, stepped up their own
criticisms of U.S. antidrug policy. In effect, they
pronounced the symbolic war on drugs lost.
Now that the hearings have been completed, and testimony
has been studied and restudied, the committee, led by
Chairman Charles B. Rangel and Ranking Member Benjamin
Gilman, has produced a list of findings resulting from the
many hours of testimony.
The findings are not for any specific legislative purpose.
Instead, they are intended solely as an advisory to any
Members of the U.S. Congress and the public as to what the
committee believes was established by the proceedings.
How the Hearings Evolved
In the spring of 1988, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was
speaking to his colleagues at the U.S. Conference of
Mayors annual meeting on crime and drugs. During the
speech, Mayor Schmoke surprised the gathering when he
suggested that elected officials should consider the
legalization or the decriminalization of illicit drugs in
response to America's escalating drug crisis.
In his speech, Mayor Schmoke criticized America's current
antidrug approach as a wasteful proposition bent too far
toward law enforcement and not far enough toward treatment
and rehabilitation of drug addicts. Recalling his days as
a prosecuting attorney, Mayor Schmoke cited what he viewed
as the miniscule impact of arrests and convictions of drug
traffickers and drug users on the overall drug problem.
Schmoke's comments were the proverbial "shots heard around
the world," as few, if any, public officials had treaded
into such politically explosive waters before on the
sensitive narcotics issue.
Select Committee Chairman Rangel (D-NY) responded almost
immediately to Mayor Schmoke's legalization calls.
Chairman Rangel decried the notion as stemming from
frustration and exhasperation with the Nation's
mushrooming drug crisis. Chairman Rangel contended in
interviews and opinion articles that legalization would be
a tactical error in the war on drugs that would quite
possibly lead to a nation full of drug addicts.
Throughout the ensuing months after the hearing was
announced, people on both sides of the issue began
tangling publicly over the question. An informal national
debate had begun, and many looked toward the hearings
scheduled by Chairman Rangel as a final commentary on the
subject at least for the time being.
in calling for the hearings, Chairman Rangel expressed a
desire to get to the heart of suggestions being proposed
by legalization proponents. Although pro-legalization
advocates claimed they were simply calling for a debate on
the issue, Chairman Rangel impressed upon them that they
should come forward with specific plans and proposals,
rather than just debate the subject. Chairman Rangel made
a special plea with public officials suggesting
legalization or decriminalization to come forward with
specifics to satisfy the burden of their responsibility to
the American public.
Throughout the debate, Chairman Rangel asked legalization
advocates a series of questions in order that they might
clarify their positions. Among them:
(1) has anybody ever considered which narcotic and
psychotropic drugs might be legalized?
(2) would we allow all drugs to become legally sold and
used, or would we select the most abused few, such as
cocaine, heroin, and marijuana?
(3) who would administer the dosages-the State or the
(4) what quantity of drugs would each individual be
allowed to get?
(5) what about addicts, would we not have to give them
more in order to satisfy their craving, or would we give
them enough just to whet their appetites?
(6) what do we do about those who are experimenting? Do
we sell them drugs, too, and encourage them to pick up the
habit? (7) furthermore, will the government establish tax-
supported facilities to sell these drugs?
(8) would we get the supply from the same foreign
countries that support our habit now, or would we create
our own internal sources?
(9) would there be an age limit on purchases, as is the
case with alcohol?
(10) how many people are projected to become addicts as a
result of legalization?
(11) what about pilots, railroad engineers, surgeons,
police, cross-country truckers and nuclear plant employees
who want to use marijuana and cocaine during off-duty
(12) what about crack cocaine as a legalized drug? Would
we want to legalize something as harmful and as
destructive to our youth as this?
Legalization: A Recurring Theme
The legalization debate seems to rise to the surface when
the drug crisis reaches alarming levels, as it has
recently. The drug issue eventually moved to the top of
the list of Americans' concerns during 1988, given the
spate of news stories on the growing influence of the
narcotics trade in everyday lives.
Throughout the year, there were revelations from the
Select Committee on Narcotics and other congressional
committees about the suspected involvement of some foreign
leaders in the drug trade. Americans were also bombarded
by reports of the increased prevalence of deadly,
addictive crack cocaine; growing gang involvement in the
narcotics trade; a tripling of cocaine imports to the
United States in the 1980's; a significant rise in drug-
related violence sparked by tension between warring
traffickers and by street dealers bent on attention-
getting retaliatory tactics.
At the time of the hearing, one major news poll revealed
that the American public was more concerned about the
crisis of illegal drugs than about any other issue-
including the budget deficit.
The ABC News polling data also indicated that Americans
were wary of legalization, Nine out of ten opposed
legalizing all drugs and about 50 percent of the
respondents feared drug use would rise under legalization.
In a Gallup survey released 2 months prior to the hearing,
about 75 percent of those surveyed were opposed and nearly
70 percent felt that legalization would aggravate the
Nation's drug problem.
Through the years, advocates of legalization have favored
an end to existing drug laws, often using the end of
Prohibition in the 1930's and the end of organized crime's
involvement in the illegal liquor trade as an example in
making their case.
Chairman Rangel, on the other hand, asked of legalization
advocates in 1988: What drugs would we legalize? Who
would manufacture and distribute them? In what
neighborhoods would they be sold and marketed? Would
crack cocaine be legalized in a legalization scheme?
Would there be age and quantity limits on purchases? How
much would we give addicts, enough to satisfy their
Other opponents of the legalization theory suggested that
in addition to a potential meteoric rise in addictions,
there is no guarantee that the black market for drugs
would close down, especially if restrictions are placed on
purchase quantity and on the quality of various narcotic
Overview of the Proceedings
Thursday and Friday, September 29 and 30, 1988, were 2
significant days in the 100th Congress regarding the drug
issue. In those 2 days, a total of 34 witnesses
representing Congress, law enforcement, government,
academia, and various drug-related interest groups
testified before the Select Committee on Narcotics on
By the time the hearing commenced, the legalization issue
had gained such national exposure that the proceedings
were carried live over public television and public radio,
and was covered by a large contingent of print media. At
this point and time in 1988, legalization was a very
important topic to many Americans concerned about the
worsening drug crisis.
In addition to the announced lineup of witnesses, several
Members of Congress who do not serve on the Select
Committee on Narcotics offered testimony on the subject.
Representative Carroll Hubbard (D-KY) and Representative
Roy Dyson (D-MD) both told the panel that the Nation's
drug crisis had become more than just a problem in urban
America. In rural areas served by both those Members,
there has been a noticeable increase in narcotics-related
problems. Representative Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) warned
about the confused messages that would be sent to the
youth if drugs were legalized. Representative Kwesi Mfume
(D-MD) also outlined his opposition, but said that more
attention should be given to demand reduction.
Following is a summary of the statement of each witness.
The summary is intended to capture the essence of what the
witness presented to the panel in his or her opening
statement, and is not a verbatim translation of the actual
1. The ideas and recommendations of pro-legalization
forces remain varied and wide ranging. There is no
commonly agreed upon approach that should be taken to
legalize illicit narcotics.
2. The American public remains largely opposed to the
notion of legalizing illicit drugs.
3. There is no data to support the theory that
legalizing illicit drugs would result in less crime, more
affordable narcotics or decreased drug experimentation,
abuse or addiction.
4. There is no agreement on the types of currently
illicit drugs that should be considered for
5. No definitive information exists that would show how
America's youth would be affected by legalization, whether
positively or negatively.
6. There should be a stepped up effort to look at the
expansion of treatment and rehabilitation resources around
7. The Federal war on drugs must devote more resources
to curbing drug trafficking and abuse in major U.S.
8. Narcotics law enforcement efforts need to be
improved, especially in major U.S. cities)
9. Training for the staff of drug abuse treatment
centers needs to be expanded and improved.
10. Federal drug abuse policies need more input from
residents of major American cities and not just from
governmental leaders,police chiefs, and substance abuse
11. The burden of proof regarding the benefits of drug
legalization must be placed on the advocates of such a
policy. Until the proponents of drug legalization can
demonstrate that the benefits of such a policy outweigh
the risks to health and drug-related violeiiee, drug
legalization should be rejected.
12. American schools should continue to convey the
message that drug abuse is against the law, harmful to
health, and a detriment to optimal academic performance.
13. Employee assistance programs [EAP's] in government
and industry must be strengthened to help employees and
their families deal effectively with drug abuse,
14. We have not yet begun to fight the war.
Consequently, legalization should not be considered an
Summary of Statements by Members of Congress
CHAIRMAN CHARLES B. RANGEL (D-NY), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROT.
Legalization has been widely discussed in academic
settings, and on radio and TV talk shows. But this is the
first time in a long time the issue has made its way to
Most of those who have been advocating legalization have
been calling for either a debate, a discussion or a
consideration. But after an advance reading of some of
the testimony, it does not appear that any of the
witnesses are truly'advocating legalization.
Some are saying legalization ought to be discussed because
the war on drugs is being lost with law enforcement. But
the Nation has yet to declare a real war on drugs.
For 8 years, the Congress has met resistance to antidrug
efforts. The Reagan administration has shied away from
providing funds to State and local governments so that
they can fight the war on drugs.
How can we say we have a war on drugs when a total of
2,800 DEA men and women are dedicated to fighting the war
on drugs at the Federal level?
Some legalization proponents are calling for a greater
educational and rehabilitative commitment, but we do not
even have a single federally run rehabilitation program.
Some say we must do more with drug education, but so far
we have only had slogans like "Just Say No" and "Zero
No opium or coca leaves are grown in this country, yet the
Secretary of State never utters his contempt for the
nations where these poisons are grown.
Legalization proponents must be prepared to discuss their
ideas and recommendations in detail.
HON. LAWRENCE COUGHLIN (R-PA), RANKING MINORITY MEMBER,
SELECT COMMITTEE: ON NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
Having a hearing on legalization could send a wrong
message to America's young people that drugs are OK.
Having a discussion could be a copout in the war on drugs.
The hope is that the hearing will not be interpreted as an
indication that legalization is being suggested.
To quote the attorney general of Pennsylvania, Leroy
Zimmerman, "In Philadelphia, over 50 percent of the child
abuse fatalities involved parents who heavily used
cocaine. Cheaper, legal cocaine would result in more
children dying and more babies being born addicted."
HoN. BENJAMIN A. GILMAN (R-NY), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
Drug kingpins are Continuing to cash in on America's
insatiable appetite for illicit drugs. These
multinational criminal syndicates have built evil empires
from the drug trade.
The power of the drug trade threatens the authority of
governments worldwide. Colombia, for example, is
virtually under siege from the traffickers,
When the narcotics trade recently offered the Colombian
people the money to pay off the nation's foreign debt, the
people refused, resisting the financial temptation and
opting to take the moral high ground.
Those calling for legalization in America are seeking to
compromise the same values and morals that remain at stake
in Colombia. They are looking to cut a deal with the drug
Legalization would not put an end to the international
cartels, who would figure out ways to adapt and penetrate
the U.S. market. It would not end drug-related crime, as
many addicts on the street would continue to commit
criminal acts because of impaired judgment and instability
from illicit drug use.
It is hoped that fresh, new ideas will emerge from the
hearings that will make the Nation more effective in the
war on drugs.
HON. FORTNEY H. (PETE) STARK (D-CA), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
In New York and Oakland, only about 10 percent of the
cocaine and heroin addicts are able to be treated for
their addictions. In both cities, people seeking drug
treatment are required to wait at least 6 months for
treatment. Drug-related crime has skyrocketed as a result
of a lack of treatment slots.
Legalization is not the answer. We must find a way to
treat the drug abuser.
I am introducing a bill to provide treatment for addicts
seeking help. The bill would be financed through the
Social Security Programs' disability insurance provisions
and utilize a Medicare-like payment principal for
outpatient and inpatient services.
HoN. JAMES H. SCHEUER(D-NY), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
The ultimate copout in the war on drugs is to stand pat
with the current ineffective drug control policy. Pumping
more resources into a transparently failed system would be
an admission of defeat in the war on drugs.
Our system has totally failed. If seizures, arrests, and
convictions are going up, then so is violence and
addiction. We must end the preoccupation with the
criminal justice aspect of the problem and focus more on
education and treatment.
A new system and a new strategy would involve changing
people's behavior. We have successfully changed attitudes
and behavior on alcohol and tobacco consumption.
The question is, How do we reduce the demand for drugs?
We need to examine the costs and benefits of police
crackdowns. We have to address a broad spectrum of
options and put substantially more resources into those
programs that really work.
HON. CARDISS COLLINS (D-IL), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
Drugs have been a problem for many years. It is one of
the greatest public evils in the United States.
The present administration has demonstrated a profound
lack of understanding on the drug issue. The First Lady
has told us to "Just Say No," while the President has said
no to an effective policy to rapidly eradicate drug crops
It seems incontrovertible that the immediate effect of
legalization would be rampant drug use. This would occur
for at least a short period, as the lion that has been
held captive for many years would be let out of the den.
Even if legalization were to have the desired effect, it
would not work until the lion became accustomed to the new
liberties. That could be a very long time, and the Nation
could not afford to wait.
Legalization could lead to a legal and constitutional
quagmire, in which the newly legal rights of individuals
must be merged with the obligation to protect society.
HON. DANIEL K. AKAKA (D-HI), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
The issue is not whether we ought to sanction the use of
drugs, but whether legalization can break the stranglehold
that drugs have had on our communities.
We have contended that drugs affect all of us, not just
users and pushers. That has never been more apparent than
it is today.
HON. FRANK J. GUARINI (D-NJ), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
Legalization is not the cure for the Nation's drug
problems. It is the wrong policy, and it sends the wrong
signal. It sends the signal to the drug lords that the
Nation has lost, and they have won. It tells America's
youth that the U.S. Government says yes to drugs.
People should be motivated so that they don't need drugs.
They need to be given something to believe in. A sense of
purpose and a spirit of idealism need to be renewed in
America. Hope and dreams should replace despair and
There should be a dialog on the issue, as it may in the
long run contribute to bringing an end to the drug crisis.
HoN. DANTE B. FASCELL (D-FL), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
The fight against drugs must focus on interdiction,
education, and rehabilitation. We just passed an oninibus
drug bill in the House, but no matter how vigorously we
attack the problem, we must key on reducing demand.
The issue should be discussed, and all views should get a
fair hearing. But legalization and decriminalization are
not the solutions to the drug problem.
A clear connection has been established between crime and
drugs. While many individuals commit crimes to get drugs,
others who commit crimes are found to have used illicit
drugs just prior to the commission of the crime.
Legalization will compound the situation because drugs
will be easier to obtain. It sends a misguided and
If drugs were legalized, how would we be able to tell our
kids to stay off drugs? How can we urge other countries
to work with us in interdiction and eradication efforts?
We must increase aid to State and local law agencies.
Efforts must be concentrated on interdiction, demand
reduction, and on rehabilitation and education.
HON. WILLIAM J. HUGHES (D-NJ), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
ABUSE AND CONTROL
I am very much opposed to legalization. This view comes
after reflecting on 24 years as either a prosecutor or a
Member of Congress.
Where in the entire world has legalization worked?
Witnesses would do well to indicate this to the committee
in testimony. Also, indicate to the committee how the
profits are going to be removed from the drug trade under
legalization. The black market will not be eliminated.
Policies of recent years are workable if they are followed
with the proper commitment. To date, the commitment has
not been made in terms of effort and resources.
The Nation's strategy is good. Many of the provisions in
the omnibus drug bill advance us in the right direction.
Once the Nation gets serious about the problem, we will
begin to turn the corner.
HoN. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ (D-TX), SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
Drugs take away the God-given gift of human potential that
we all have. Illegal drugs are damaging our children, our
communities and our Nation as a whole. None of this would
change under legalization.
The question of legalization is not one of economics or
money or the black market.
The position of those who advocate legalization is
recognized. But when reasonable people discuss
unreasonable proposals, it is a sad commentary on the
impact that illegal drugs have had on society.
HoN. KWEISI MFUMF (D-MD), SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS
ABUSE AND CONTROL
I am extremely opposed to the concept of legalization.
However, it is important that the debate take place.
Both sides in the debate agree on one thing: Illicit drugs
are tearing our Nation apart. It is estimated that some
23 million Americans use illicit drugs once monthly. A
total of 6 million of these people use cocaine. Young
people in the United States use illicit drugs more than
their counterparts in any other nation of the world.
Proponents argue that legalization would remove the profit
motive. That may very well be, but drug use is driven by
demand and that's where more attention needs to be focused
History shows that drugs made legal for adult consumption
cannot be kept out of the hands of children. Under
legalization, more children and young people would
experiment with drugs, as is the case with alcohol. It
has been estimated that about 75 percent of all drug users
Proponents often point to England and Holland as models
for a legalization proposal. But the concept has not
worked in either of those two countries. The policy of
legalized heroin had to be discontinued in England as the
number of heroin users increased and the black market
continued to thrive. In Amsterdam, Holland, where
marijuana is legal, crime and hard drug use remains a
An additional consideration is the threat of babies born
to drugaddicted mothers. That probably would be
exacerbated under legalization. So would other problems,
such as car and train accidents and corruption.
The U.S. focus on eliminating the drug problem should
expand beyond the one-dimensional effort to stop the
supply. More focus should be placed on demand reduction,
specifically treatment and rehabilitation.
If the United States is fighting a war on drugs, the
battlefields are not in Colombia and Bolivia, but rather
in our schools and our communities.
HON. MICHAEL OXLEY (R-OH), SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS
ABUSE AND CONTROL
The idea of legalization should not even be dignified with
a 2-day hearing by the committee.
Consideration of the notion of legalization sends a bad
message to the rest of the Nation and to the rest of the
world. America's teenagers who may be considering
experimenting with drugs may see that legalization is
being considered and think that it is now OK to use drugs.
Legalization is unacceptable in a civilized society.
My hope for an outcome to the hearings is that the book on
legalization will be closed once and for all.
HON. Tom LEWIS (R-FL), SELECT COMMITTEE ON NARCOTICS
It is contradictory that those committed to fighting drugs
have agreed to give a hearing to the legalization issue.
Making drugs more affordable and more available could be
detrimental to society. Particularly objectionable is the
view of legalization advocates that the government itself
can make a profit from the drug trade.
Legalizing drug profits and making dealers out of the
government and private citizens is appalling.
HON. CARROLL HUBBARD, JR. (D-KY)
The urban drug problem is well known. But the war on
drugs needs to be fought in rural America, as well. The
drug problem is acute and serious in outlying areas.
In my own congressional district, in western Kentucky, the
U.S. Customs Service is aware of the severity of the drug
problem. They and the Drug Enforcement Administration
know of contraband-carrying flights from Colombia and
Mexico that arrive at our rural airports. These small
airports are safer for drug dealers than flying into
places like New Orleans and Miami.
I hope that the Congress will be able to lead the public
and our government away from legalization. I hope that
those who are proposing legalization would realize that
more people would experiment with drugs under Such a plan.
In my district, even the schools are not immune to the
drug trade. At a grand jury hearing last December in
Bowling Green, I testified that there were individuals
selling drugs to Western Kentucky University students. My
wife and I received death threats as a result of my
testimony, in which names were revealed.
Like others, I wonder what we can do to increase education
about drug abuse, and move as a nation toward a spiritual,
rather than chemical, dependence.
HON. ROBERT GARCIA (D-NY)
Legalization poses dangerous repercussions for the Nation.
It cannot be risked. It could not be sustained.
The legalization proposal comes at a time when public
opinion toward drug abuse is beginning to take a turn for
the positive, and after the House has just passed major
antidrug legislation to improve on the 1986 antidrug bill.
Given the problems we continue to experience with tobacco
and alcohol, the risks of legalization are just too great.
The biggest concern about legalization is the effect that
it would have on America's youth. Legalization would
result in the widespread use of drugs, especially among
youth. The greatest impact would be felt in minority
communities and in the inner city.
As long as there are drug users who cannot afford drugs
legally, there will be a black market. Unless we legalize
all drugs-including crack, PCP, LSD-and unless we make
them universally available, there will be crime.
Legalization fails to take into account whether special
restrictions would have to be placed on pilots, law
officers, truck drivers and others in hazardous
occupations. It also fails to consider the spread of AIDS
through intravenous drug use.
HON. Roy DYSON (D-MD)
Legalization is a foolhardy and reckless proposal that
would have a negative impact on the family.
The drug problem has filtered down to rural America. In
one of the counties located in my district, the number of
drug offenses rose 114 percent from 1986 to 1987.
Activists like Timothy Leary, Alan Ginsberg and Jerry
Rubin 20 years ago advocated that drug use was okay and
should be accepted as a form of escapism from the rough
times of the real world. But over the past 20 years, we
have seen the personal and financial ruin that drug use
Under legalization, America would become enslaved to
drugs. Decriminalization is simply a backdoor way of
Legalization would send a bad message. It would increase
drug use and addiction. It would result in the
expenditure of billions of additional dollars in health
care costs and in lost productivity.
We must begin teaching our children at an early age about
the dangers of harmful drugs. Though education must play
a vital role in our antidrug efforts, we must still
initiate stiff sanctions against those who grow, use and
sell illicit narcotics.
HoN. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN (D-MD)
In a survey of my Third Congressional District (portions
of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County), 69
percent of the respondents oppose legalization and
A war on drugs cannot be won unless the profit is taken
out of the drug trade. But decriminalization is not the
way to accomplish that.
Constituents are saying that our discussions on the
national drug debate should also take into account the
damage from other harmful substances, such as alcohol and
More money should be focused on establishing effective
treatment and education programs if a real war on drugs is
going to be waged.
What is needed is a comprehensive approach combining
foreign and domestic policy sensitive to the urgency of
interdiction efforts, stricter enforcement, more resources
to educate our youth to the dangers of drugs and treatment
programs without waiting lists.
Summary of Testimony From Thursday, September 29, 1988
MAYOR KURT L, SCHMOKE, BALTIMORE
America needs to reexamine its current drug policy. The
Nation is spending about $10 billion annually to enforce
drug laws that are catching only a fraction of the
The drug problem in America is defined in two components:
addiction and crime. Law enforcement is unable to resolve
either of these two problems and actually has worsened the
crime problem. The black market is a result of the
manufacture and sale of cocaine being criminalized and
profits from drug sale-, are enormous because the
substances cannot be obtained legally.
Nationwide, there were 750,000 drug arrests in 1987 and
Baltimore had 12,000 drug arrests, yet both represent only
a fraction of the drug violators. Prisons and jails are
packed with drug offenders, One-third of all Federal
prisoners are incarcerated on drug offenses.
Cigarettes kill hundreds of thousands, but no move has
been made to make them illegal. Antismoking campaigns and
Neither PCP nor LSD should be legalized. But a
maintenance system involving designated hospitals should
be implemented for cocaine and heroin abusers, with the
opportunity for abusers to enroll in a treatment program
aimed at reducing the intake of either of these drugs down
MAYOR EDWARD I. KOCH OF NEW YORK CITY
Mayor Schmoke's proposal to maintain heroin and cocaine
addicts is not new. The concept has been tried in Great
Britain, and it has failed. Addiction and crime both rose
as a result of doctorprescribed drug maintenance in that
Legally received cocaine could be turned into the
derivative crack by mixing in baking soda or some other
base in the heating process. This would be a
surreptitious way for crack addicts to obtain their fix if
cocaine and heroin were legalized and prescribed.
Organized crime still, would play a role in drug
production and distribution for those who are either
underage or cannot get the amount and quality they desire.
In Great Britain, 84 percent of the government-registered
addicts during that country's heroin maintenance program
were discovered to be using other drugs illicitly.
With a population of 240 million people and about 6
million regular drug users in that group, drugs still
remain unacceptable and drug users remain a sizable
minority in the Nation. If legalization were to go into
effect, there would be a gradual acceptability that would
lead to an increase in users.
There is little distinction between decriminalization and
legalization, and both are bad ideas that should be
MAYOR DENNIS CALLAHAN OF ANNAPOLIS, MD
The most compelling argument for not supporting the notion
of legalization comes from the problems our society
currently experiences with alcohol. According to the
Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, alcohol
abuse costs America about $117 billion annually in
medical, property, productivity and other losses. Of this
amount, only about $2,5 billion related to law enforcement
costs while the rest concerned accidents and other
problems associated with the abuse of alcohol.
Even marijuana should not be legalized. Advocates for
legalizing only this drug claim an overdose of it would
only put the user to sleep, but they could be asleep while
at the controls of a locomotive or another vehicle.
In Alaska, marijuana can be grown legally on private plots
and it can be consumed on the premises. A survey of
250,000 high school students done by the Atlanta-based
organization, Parents' Resource Institute, indicates that
about one in five of those surveyed admitted to smoking
marijuana. About one in two of those surveyed in Alaska
admitted to smoking marijuana. It appears that the
sanctioning of marijuana use has contributed significantly
to the much higher usage figure in this State compared to
the rest of the Nation.
HoN. JACK LAWN, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT
Drugs are not bad because they are illegal. Instead,
drugs are illegal because they are bad, and legalization
advocates are missing the point in blaming drug laws for
the crime and violence that has resulted from the Nation's
The problems that we continue to experience with legalized
alcohol use provide strong evidence that legalization
would be a bad idea. Greater availability results in
greater use and greater abuse.
The National Council on Alcoholism reports that one of
every three American adults contends that alcohol has
brought them family trouble. About 100,000 10- and 11-
year-olds reported getting drunk once weekly in 1985, and
about 100,000 deaths a year in the United States can be
attributed to alcoholism. Of that number, 23,000 are
killed on highways and cirrhosis of the liver is the
sixthleading cause of death in America.
The United States is signatory to the Single Convention on
Drugs of 1961, and to the Convention of Psychotropic Drugs
of 1971. Both these treaties require the country to
establish and maintain effective controls on illicit
substances. The sanctity of these treaties and U.S.
credibility in the international right against drug abuse
would be severely damaged if these substances were
Legalization would adversely affect.young people and the
crime rate. The American public has said in recent
opinion polls that it opposes legalization.
Legalization is a simple answer to a complex problem. The
answer in fighting the drug crisis comes from focusing
more on demand reduction efforts.
ARTHUR C. "CAPPY" EADS, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD, NATIONAL
DISTRICT ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 27TH
JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, BELTON, TX
The whole notion of legalizing drugs ignores the reason
why drugs were made illegal in the first place. They are
bad for the user, the community and society as a whole.
Drug use often translates into child neglect and abuse,
runaways, molestation and other crimes and maladies that
result from individuals being under the influence of
It is wrong to assume that funding for enforcement versus
funding for treatment and rehabilitation are distinctly
different, and that they are competing categories, as both
areas must be adequately funded for an effective antidrug
strategy. Effective treatment programs are essential in
sentencing drug offenders, while sanctions against drug
use are critical components of a treatment and prevention
We have yet to implement in the United States, a full-
scale attack on the drug problem combining law
enforcement, treatment and prevention efforts into an
HON. STERLING JOHNSON, JR., SPECIAL NARCOTICS PROSECUTOR,
NEW YORK CITY
Calls for legalization are borne from frustration with an
inadequate response from the executive branch of the
government. Unfortunately, not one single piece of
antidrug legislation has come from the executive branch of
the government. The only major antidrug legislation has
come from Congress.
It is improbable that heroin addicts could be
maintained, as Mayor Schmoke contends. If an addict's
habit is maintained at a certain level, over time the
level of that addict's habit will rise. The black market
would remain in existence under legalization. Further,
the matter of whether doctors, pilots and other people in
sensitive occupations would be allowed to use legal drugs
must be examined closely.
Legalized drugs will not stop crime, and the experience
with prescribed heroin in Great Britain provides evidence
that a downward trend in crime is not necessarily the case
of lessened restrictions on drug use.
Finally, the concept of free needles, which is supported
by Mayor Schmoke and also New York Citv Mayor Koch, is a
bad idea. It sends out erroneous signals that conflict
with any and all efforts to put an end to the use of
harmful illicit drugs.
JERALD VAUGHN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE
The IACP represents more than 15,000 top-level law
enforcement executives in the United States. The group is
unequivocally opposed to drug legalization.
Overcrowded jails and prisons and loaded court dockets
indicate success, rather than failure, of law enforcement
in the battle against illicit drugs. Money is not being
wasted on law enforcement, as only 3 percent of all
expenditures at the Federal, State and local level involve
the civil and criminal justice system. A total of 1.4
percent of Government spending goes toward the provision
of law enforcement services, and less than 1 percent of
the Federal budget is earmarked for law enforcement.
Less than 500,000 law enforcement officers are assigned to
protect more than 245 million American citizens, and the
lead antidrug agency has just 3,000 officers.
The IACP, in conjunction with the Justice Department, the
Bureau of Justice Assistance and DEA, called together law
enforcement authorities from all levels for five drug
strategy sessions in 1987. A major finding from those
sessions was that crime could be reduced through
cooperative community strategies. This information was
produced in manual form.
The United States has seen fit to protect Americans from
substances that may be harmful through the regulation of
the sale and distribution of these products. There has
lieen little complaint about the infringement on
individual rights in the process. It is understood that
these products-meats, milk, prescription drugs, serums and
vaccines-are regulated because the manufacturer alone
cannot be depended upon to put the interests of the
consumer ahead of the interests of profit.
Legalization is not a realistic option. At best, it is a
last resort when all else has truly failed.
WILLIAM CHAMBLISS, PH.D., PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON
The drug trade was estimated at about $1 billion a year 50
years ago in 1938. Today, it is valued at somewhere
around $130 billion, which is larger than the gross
national product of most nations in the world and many
Drug profits remain essential to the survival of organized
crime. Churning out these profits and protecting them
involves engendering corruption of law enforcement
authorities, and this remains an ongoing goal of organized
crime, which remains a hazard of trying to stop the flow
and use of drugs by criminalizing it.
Because of the level of poverty and other factors, it is
impossible to expect a complete end to the drug trade even
if police were able to arrest each and every drug pusher
tomorrow. The costs of enforcing drug laws outweighs the
A new drug policy should first take into account that
marijuana should be considered separately from such
substances as cocaine and heroin. States that have
decriminalized marijuana have had positive experiences as
Although the experiment with prescribed heroin in Great
Britain has not been totally successful, it is more
successful than what the United States has experienced
with criminalized heroin. Both heroin and cocaine should
be legalized and dispensed by medical professionals.
DR. CHARLES R. SCHUSTER, PH.D., DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
ON DRUG ABUSE
NIDA is strongly opposed to the legalization of illicit
First, there are a series of questions-including the many
posed by Chairman Rangel-that must be answered before we
can even begin to consider something as complicated as
legalization. For example, the pharmacological effects of
cocaine differ so that it is impossible to consider how
much would be considered enough, or a legal limit.
Second, there appears to be an attitude readjustment
occurring regarding drug abuse. According to the latest
national high school survey on drug abuse, drugs are being
seen by this group as more dangerous and there is a
reporting of more self-abstention from illicit drug use
than in other recent high school surveys.
In the 1980 survey, 11 percent of the respondents reported
daily marijuana use. The 1986-87 survey indicated that
figure had dropped to 3.3 percent.
As attitudes among adults and teenagers change, so will
behavior. What is also needed are more good treatment
programs, since we know that effective treatment works.
DR. ARNOLD TREBACH, PH.D., FOUNDER, DRUG POLICY INSTITUTE
America would be better off if all drug laws were removed
today. Americans are at their best when they negotiate
settlements, and at their worst when arguments are pushed
to the wall.
It is absolutely essential that we remove laws restricting
use of marijuana and heroin for medicinal purposes. It is
also important to begin viewing drug addicts from a
different perspective. We should be more concerned about
getting them treatment rather than branding them
criminals. This would include some form of maintenance,
which is admittedly controversial.
There should be limited experimentation with recreational
drugs. The 1973 Nixon Commission on Marijuana and Drug
Abuse as well as the 1982 report of the National Academy
of Sciences suggest an attempt at limited
decriminalization or legalization.
ADM. JAMES WATKINS, U.S. NAVV (RET.), CHAIRMAN,
An emerging problem stemming from rampant drug abuse is
that of AIDS. One of the conduits of the deadly HIV virus
that leads to AIDS is contact with an individual who is an
abuser of drugs intravenously.
The IV drug abusers make up only 25 percent of all AIDS
victims, but about 70 percent of heterosexual native
citizens have contracted the disease from contact with an
intravenous drug abuser. About 70 percent of perinatal
AIDS cases involve a parent who is either an IV drug
abuser or who has a sexual partner who abuses drugs
More treatment is needed for IV drug abusers. There are
some 1.2 million IV drug abusers in the United States, but
only about 148,000 are in some form of treatment at any
What is needed is a full-scale effort that addresses both
supply and demand.
During its time as functioning body, the President's AIDS
Commission heard testimony regarding the use of needle
exchange programs. The overriding opinion of many black
leaders who testified at an inquiry held in New York City
is that IV drug abuse is killing the black community.
However, these same leaders were opposed to needle
exchange programs, and view them as a copout answer to a
very serious problem. They are considered the first step
to full-fledged legalization.
The most important thing that can be done to lick the drug
problem is to help young people avoid using drugs in the
DR. TOD MIKURIYA, M.D., PSYCHIATRIST, BERKELEY, CA
It is good to see an increase in public awareness about
the dangers of alcohol and tobacco and about the
increasing tendency to classify them as drugs of abuse.
While we focus heavily on the problems of drugs like
cocaine and crack, very little attention has been paid to
the problems caused by poisoning from alcohol and tobacco.
We need to move closer to acceptance of these substances
as dangerous drugs.
A comprehensive proposal regarding drug use in America
would encompass the following six points:
(1) The removal of product liability exemptions for
(2) The removal of price supports for tobacco.
(3) The establishment of a drug users' cooperative.
(4) The legalization of home cultivation of cannabis.
(5) The disallowance of searches of citizens' homes
without a warrant.
(6) A testing of those who test others for drug use.
JOHN GUSTAFSON, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NEW YORK DIVISION OF
SUBSTANCE ABUSE SERVICES
Our agency oversees about 400 local treatment and
prevention programs, with a capacity to treat 46,000
people and to provide counseling services to another
About 22 percent of New York's population has abused some
type of substance within the last 6 months. Half of this
number abuses drugs on a regular basis. More than 600,000
people art- considered non-narcotic substance abusers and
about 260,000 are narcotics addicts.
The social and health consequences of legalization would
be too great. Legalization advocates are ignoring the
seductive properties of drugs like cocaine, which
laboratory tests show leave the user craving for more.
While alcohol Prohibition may have been a law enforcement
failure, it was a success healthwise. During the 1920's,
alcohol-related mental illness declined significantly, but
shot back up after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933.
From 1917 until 1921, New York State made narcotics
available through clinics. But that practice was
discontinued after it was discovered that many people were
supplementing their legal supply with drugs purchased from
the black market. This is a lesson for those considering
We cannot overlook the impact that legalization would have
on health and health care systems. Many illicit drugs
lead to chronic health problems for users, and this
problem would be pronounced under legalization.
STEVEN WISOTSKY, PROFESSOR OF LAW, NOVA UNIVERSITY
An independent national commission should be set up to
take a fresh look at U.S. drug policy. Such a commission
should have two fundamental goals: To reduce drug abuse,
and to reduce the social problems stemming from the
existence of the black market illicit drug trade.
A clear definition should be reached and agreed upon in
terms of what "the drug problem" in America is. Is it
drug use in general? Is it drug use by children and
teenagers? Is it drug use that proves to be injurious to
others or to the drug users themselves? Is it the black
market and the events associated with that market in terms
of crime and violence?
Detailed studies and polls should be conducted to
determine how drugs should be legalized. This should be
along the lines of marketing surveys done to prepare for
the sale and distribution of other products.
For example, focus groups can be set up, and groups of
individuals-such as prison volunteers serving life
sentences-can be used for tracking the effects of certain
drugs and also for gauging the addictive qualities of
Among the priorities of drug control should be the
protection of children, the protection of the safety and
health of the public and the preservation of individual
liberties in the process.
The real moral high ground in finding a Solution to the
drug crisis is one that will allow responsible, competent
adults to have the freedom of choice so long as they do
not intrude on the rights and privileges of others. No
drug control policy should affront the Constitution.
DR. MITCHELL ROSENTHAL, M.D., PRESIDENT, PHOENIX HOUSE,
NEW YORK, NY
Drug legalization would increase drug use and would
further aggravate all the destabilizing influences that
plague societv today.
Addiction to illicit drugs has an enormous impact on the
character, behavior and values of the abuser. While just
as many cigarette smokers have become dependent on that
product, the number of cocaine users, the power of cocaine
addiction and the amounts that addicts would use if it
were readily available and less expensive is ignored by
those pushing legalization.
Illicit drug use rapidly diminishes one's ability to lead
a normal, productive life. Drug abuse causes self-
destructive behavior, lowering the self-esteem and
creating the potential for violent, antisocial behavior.
Projections that drug use would double or even triple
under legalization should be taken seriously. The
greatest increase would come from those between the ages
of 12 and 21 years old. Projections of drug-related
deaths post-legalization range from 100,000 to 500,000.
The social order will suffer. Drug users are generally
irresponsible people whose deviant behavior ranges from
destroying relationships to inability to lead productive
work lives to crime. All of these possibilities will be
raised with legalized drugs.
We can realistically expect to overcome the drug crisis
with a shifting public attitude and a stronger effort to
enforce drug laws on the street.
ETHAN NADELMANN, PH.D., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, PRINCETON
Neither legalization nor decriminalization should be
considered a surrender. They are the policies that drug
dealers fear most.
What is legalization? It is a model of analysis. It is a
cost benefit analysis of current policies. We have to
look at our policy and costs and compare to other systems
and figure out which has the most benefits for the money-
What is the drug problem? This must be defined before
going further. In the 1920's, people did not talk of "the
alcohol problem." Instead, they separated the problem into
one of crime--the Al Capone types and their influence on
the consumption of alcoholand into another category of
alcohol abuse. It was decided that Prohibition was not
worth the costs, even if it reduced abuse to a degree.
Nevertheless, today the drug problem is not separated as
such and "the drug problem" is defined as both crime and
We will not be able to move forward until we make the
distinction as was made with alcohol in the 1920's.
Nearly 20 percent of all State and local resources go to
fighting drugs, In Washington, DC, more than half the
people in jail are there on drug-related charges, and the
figure in New York City is about 40 percent.
SUE RUSCHE, NATIONAL DRUG INFORMATION CENTER, FAMILIES IN
It is important that the perspective of families be
included in the national debate on legalization.
In looking at both the alcohol and cigarette industries
they spent more on advertising in the previous year than
Congress appropriated to fight the drug crisis. We do not
need any more legal industries of this sort amassing large
profits in selling their products to our children and to
Some legalization proponents make the argument that
alcohol is legal and is not sold to young people. But
alcohol sales to minors are routine as sales clerks fail
to ask for identification or look the other way when
obviously underage young people make an alcohol purchase.
If we cannot expect the alcohol and tobacco industry to
prevent sales to minors, then how can we expect a cocaine
or opiate industry from doing the same?
At the very least, illicit drugs are as harmful as alcohol
and tobacco. Fewer people die from them than from alcohol
and tobacco because fewer people use them, and fewer
people use them because they are illegal. There are 18
million marijuana users compared to 116 million alcohol
users; and there are 6 million cocaine users compared to
60 million tobacco users.
Alcohol and tobacco are leading killers in the United
States. We do not live with alcohol and tobacco, we die
with them. It would take two walls like the Vietnam
Memorial shrine in Washington, DC to memorialize all those
killed by alcohol in a year. It would take 7 to 10 walls
to cover all those who die from tobacco.
Some say taxes from drugs sales could go toward treatment
and education, but no money from the sale of alcohol and
tobacco ever goes toward education and treatment for those
Legalization would not eliminate profits- They would
simply be shifted from the drug traffickers on the street
to the people who run legitimate businesses.
It is unreasonable to think that drug use would not
increase under legalization. A total of 11 States have
decriminalized marijuana. From 1972 to 1978, in those
States, marijuana use, as a result of the
decriminalization, rose 125 percent among young adults,
130 percent among high school seniors, 200 percent among
older adults and 240 percent among teenagers.
We are beginning to see drug use drop off in this country.
We would like to see the Congress create a National Drug
Corps similar to the Peace Corps, where parents and
children could be trained to give I or 2 years of service
fighting drug abuse in their communities.
Summary of Testimony From Friday, September 30,1988
DR. DAVID F. MUSTO, M.D., DRUG HISTORIAN, YALE UNIVERSiry
Around the turn of the century, drugs such as cocaine,
heroin and morphine were legally sold and consumed in the
United States, Consumption of these drugs reached a peak
around 1890 to 1900.
Because of the high rate of consumption and the effects
these then-legal narcotics were having on individuals and
families, America moved toward enacting laws and controls
that have led to today's drug laws.
We are currently experiencing our second epidemic with
cocaine. The first occurred around the mid 1880's, when
this drug was made available in 14 different forms. One
could smoke it, rub it on in a salve, inject it, or even
Cocaine's image as the "All-American tonic" ended around
1900, when it came to be known as the most dangerous drug
in the country. The first congressionally passed
legislation regulating cocaine was in 1914, and was called
the Harrison Narcotics Act.
A key to reducing the demand for drugs will be a changing
of the public's attitudes.
Those supporting a look-see at legalization must be
reminded that there are many things in our society that we
do not attempt a look-see because we know in advance it is
bad and would lead to worse problems. One of them, for
example, is racial discrimination. We ask for laws
restricting it because we know it is bad.
Ending the drug crisis will be a very gradual thing. It
cannot be done in just 2 or 3 years. Drug use in America
peaked around 1979, and at that time there was a call for
The argument for legalizing cocaine in the 1970's was that
cocaine was a harmless drug unless misused. Today, the
argument is that legalizing it will remove the criminal
influence. We now see cocaine as bad in itself, and this
is a tremendous attitude turnaround that can be used as a
foundation for a further decline in cocaine usage.
DR. DALE MASI, PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK AND
COMMUNITY PLANNING, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND
The workplace cannot afford the legalization of illicit
In previous testimony before the Select Committee on
Narcotics Abuse and Control, my position was that there
was a dramatic need for an increase in industry drug
programs in this country. That need is greater today:
(1) A majority of illicit drug users are in the
(2) Alcohol is the primary drug of abuse in the
(3) Prescription drugs are the second largest drug of
abuse in the workplace.
(4) The most recent surveys indicate that 19- to 25-year-
olds are the biggest abusers of cocaine, with 25- to 30-
year-olds being the second largest group. If cocaine is
legalized, it would outdistance both alcohol and
prescription drugs as the most abused drug in the
Drug abuse in the workplace translates into escalating
health insurance bills. In addition, it contributes to
the problems of absenteeism, sick leave, accidents, other
rising health costs and more worker compensation claims.
More emphasis will have to be placed on companies
educating workers about the dangers of drug abuse, as has
been the case with tobacco. Few companies, a study by
Cook and Harrell shows, have drug education promotion
programs. The IBM Corp. stands out as a model for the
rest of the industry in the country.
Schools of medicine, social work and psychology today
rarely require that students take a course in alcohol or
drug addiction. Fewer schools of psychology require a
course in drug addiction than was the case in 1950. The
council on social work education, the accrediting arm for
such schools, does not even require that such courses be
taught for master's and social work candidates.
We need employee assistance programs that concentrate on
reaching employees early. New funds are needed for
meaningful programs, especially outpatient services.
DR. LAWRENCE BROWN, M.D., CLINICAL INSTRUCTOR, DEPARTMENT
OF MEDICINE, HARLEM HOSPITAL CENTER AND THE COLLEGE OF
PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS
Legalization advocates seem to be motivated by two
arguments, One is that current response to the drug crisis
has been shamefully inadequate. Number two, legalization
appears to represent a reasonable alternative to the
Our current policy on drug abuse can be addressed from two
angles. We can look at it either from the perspective of
those who use drugs, or from the perspective of the
consequences of drug use.
A most common problem of those admitted to Harlem Hospital
for treatment of kidney failure and in need of dialysis is
prior drug abuse.
Our approach to drug abuse as a nation is that we continue
to view it as a stigma, rather than the public health
problem that it truly is.
It is ridiculous that so little of the educational
training involves the study of drug abuse, Professional
and health professional schools should be encouraged to
try to include drug abuse studies in their curriculums.
Existing drug treatment facilities must be improved as
well. The least attractive facilities are often allocated
for outpatient drug treatment services. An expansion of
treatment capability must focus on both quality and
The legalization debate provides the country with an
excellent opportunity to reassess Federal drug policy.
These discussions will far exceed their potential if they
are used to chart a bold new course in responding to
America's drug crisis.
DAVID BOAZ, VICE PRESIDENT FOR PUBLIC POLICY AFFAIRS, CATO
INSTITUTE, WASHINGTON, DC
Alcohol did not cause high crime rates in the 1920's.
Prohibition of alcohol was the problem. With today's drug
crisis, it is not the drugs, but rather the prohibition of
these drugs that are causing problems with crime and
There are six ways in which drug laws impact negatively on
(1) Drug laws drive up the price. Users are forced to
commit crimes to support their habits. Prohibition pushes
some prices as much as 100 times higher than normal. Some
experts say half the crime in major cities results from
drug prohibition and many policemen will say the same
thing if they were free to express themselves honestly.
(2) Drug laws cause corruption. The extraordinary
profits become an irresistible temptation to policemen.
(3) Buyers are forced to come in contact with criminals,
unlike those who purchase alcohol without the help of
criminal,q because it is no longer illegal.
(4) Intense law enforcement forces the creation of
stronger, more potent drugs. Crack, for example, is a
result of drug prohibition.
(5) Civil liberties are abused under drug prohibition.
(6) A final negative result of drug prohibition is that
it leads to futility. In the case of today's drug crisis,
the drug war simply is not working.
GLORIA WHITFIELD (RECOVERED DRUG ADDICT), VOCATIONAL
REHARILITATION SPECIALIST, REHABILITATION SERVICES
ADMINISTRATION) DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT,
As a rehabilitation specialist in drug and alcohol abuse,
it is frightening to consider what the caseload would be
if drugs were legalized.
How can anyone with any insight or perception believe that
legalizing drugs would be the answer to the drug crisis?
If the main reason to legalize drugs is to remove the
profit from the criminals and drug traffickers, then it is
also saying that the U.S. Government "wants a piece of the
action." Uncle Sam would become the biggest dope pusher of
Generations of young Americans are dying from drug abuse.
Minds and motivation are being destroyed. Families are
being destroyed. America is being weakened.
Legalization could not be accomplished without having to
rely on imports. Small, drug-producing countries would
soon become superpowers and nations with gross national
products inflated by cocaine and heroin production would
have access to nuclear warheads.
Fraudulent prescriptions are already a big business in the
The future for America would be very dim under
legalization. Medical schools, laws schools and other
institutions of higher learning would not touch students
who use drugs, even if they were legal, because it is
known that drug users are a detriment to themselves.
Under legalization, there would not be enough hospitals to
take care of everybody. Doctors and nurses would be in
demand like never before. Long lines of dope fiends
waiting for a fix or a hit would replace the winos in the
Those favoring legalization are being insensitive.
Legalization is a further step toward the perpetuation of
evil influence over society, rather than a positive step
toward resolving some of the criminal problems in society
like poverty, insufficient health care, and insufficient
America should wage a real war against drugs, using any
means necessary to prevent it from entering our ports and
coming across our borders.
RICHARD KAREL, JOURNALIST
Across the board legalization is not the answer to the
drug crisis that plagues the country today. More
dangerous drugs should continue to be prohibited, while
less dangerous narcotics be made legally available.
During the time that America was under alcohol
Prohibition, Great Britain was attacking the alcohol
problem through a combination of higher taxes, rationing
and limited hours of distribution. When the Volstead Act
was repealed, alcohol abuse rose in the United States
while Great Britain had already began experiencing a
leveling off of alcohol use. Alcohol abuse has remained
relatively low since.
Recent Studies indicate a decrease in cirrhosis of the
liver in the United States despite alcohol being a legal
substance. With tobacco, limited restrictions and
education have cut sales of this product to minors.
Prohibition is neither necessary nor advisable for either
of these products.
The focus should be on keeping dangerous drugs like crack
and PCP away from children, and on preventing clinically
controlled drugs from being diverted. This would provide
a moral justification for the antidrug activities of law
PAUL MOORE, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, THE SCOTT NEWMAN CENTER,
Los ANGELES, CA
The Newman Center unequivocally opposes drug legalization.
The more time spent debating the issue, the more
credibility it receives.
Time should be spent developing more sound policies
regarding treatment, rehabilitation and prevention.
Society seems to be hooked on hyped miracle solutions that
look good but would not work.
Drugs, drug abuse and the associated crime are all
symptoms of deeply rooted problems in our society. Drugs
did not invent poverty, broken homes, latchkey children,
greed or the human desire for a quick- 'ix. Drugs did not
contribute to the general breakdown of moral and ethical
values. Without drugs, these problems would not disappear
and with drugs they are pronounced.
There is a perception that the drug problem can be
sanitized through legalization, giving residents of
ghettos and barrios all they want so long as they refrain
from committing crimes against the rest of society.
The threat of legalization is that it stands to send a
whole new set of mixed messages to America's youth. Drugs
already have a glamorous image.
If drugs were legalized, the gains from national efforts
of the past decade-such as a decrease in consumption and a
change in attitude of the Nation's youth-would be lost.
MARVIN MILLER, MEMBER, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, NORML,
Drugs are a problem and they create a tremendous strain on
the Nation's financial resources.
It is commonly known that there are no funds available for
desperately needed educational and training programs. The
underground narcotics trade is being allowed to run
rampant and control the marketplace. It controls purity
as well. All iirugs are, being treated as if they are the
A combined total of $10 billion is spent annually on State
and Federal antidrug efforts. Most of this expenditure
goes for enforcing marijuana possession laws. About 40
percent of all drug arrests relate to marijuana. Of the
40-percent figure, 9 of 10 cases involve simple
There are some 50 million marijuana smokers in the United
States. They are otherwise law-abiding citizens who pay
taxes and are productive.
The Nation's $10 billion antidrug budget allots only about
5 percent for education programs. No money exists for
national education or treatment programs.
NORML has put together a bill to make marijuana available
legally as a controlled and regulated substance.
An administrative law judge has ruled that marijuana is
the most benign substance known to man. It is not
addictive. It does not generate violence.
The Nation should look at new ways to battle the drug
crisis. Not every drug can be legalized, yet at the same
time, 50 million marijuana using Americans should not be
RAY WHITFIELD (RECOVERED DRUG ADDICT), DRUG ABUSE
CONSULTANT, WASHINGTON, DC
Legalization is not a positive proposal. It is based on
what may be a false assumption, that legalization is a
proposal intended to reduce drug abuse.
Drug-related murders would not necessarily decrease as a
result of legalization. Drug-related murder should take
into account drug related death, which is less glamorous,
but also a tragic consequence of drug abuse.
Many in our society have turned to drug abuse simply
because they are hopeless and helpless. Drugs ease the
pain of their reality. Many people have lived lives much
worse than what the criminal justice system can mete out.
The Nation's Government has been duplicitous in dealing
with the drug crisis. While Government does not
officially sanction drug use, it has pushed policies that
contribute to it-such as the lack of antidrug education
and treatment centers in ghettos during the 1940's, 1950's
and 1960's, and the closing of the only two Federal
treatment centers in Lexington, KY and Texas.
Drugs generally have not been considered a national
problem so long as there was the perception that it was a
problem of minoritics and poor whites. Middle and upper
income individuals, meanwhile, generally have looked at
cocaine as a suitable, nonaddictive drug.
Now that cocaine and its negative consequences have
reached suburbia, it is a national problem. This is
Drug abuse is not the root problem. It is a very
destructive symptom of other maladies.
SENAT0R JOSEPH GALIBER, NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
In the last 20 years or so, little or nothing has happened
in terms of solving the Nation's drug crisis.
I introduced a bill in the State assembly earlier this
year to set up a commission to study legalization and
decriminalization in the State of New York.
America has always been the noble experiment on freedom
that other nations around the world have looked to as an
example. But now, out of frustration, Americans are
beginning to espouse violations of freedoms and civil
liberties as the answer to this frustration.
Drug trafficking must be eliminated through the
legalization of narcotics.
Responsible officials are suggesting arming our police
with more powerful weapons. They have suggested shooting
down suspicious planes. They have called for a doubling
of agents and resources, martial law and the death penalty
for drug traffickers.
We fail to realize the coexistence of two separate
problems regarding the Nation's drug crisis. There is
drug abuse and there is drug trafficking. It is the
trafficking that causes shootouts, raids, deaths and
injuries. If all drugs were legalized right now and given
away free, then the traffickers would cease coming in
immediately. The profit would be gone.
Drug abuse would not be eliminated under legalization, but
the horrible problems associated with the drug trade would
The questions posed by Chairman Rangel can be answered in
the context of the alcohol industry:
Question. What narcotics and drugs would be legalized?
Question. Who would be allowed to buy these narcotics?
Would there be an age limit?
Answer. The same limitations as those for purchasing
Question. Would we sell drugs to people who just want to
experiment and encourage them to pick up the habit?
Answer. We would sell drugs in the same fashion and with
the same restrictions as the selling of alcohol.
Question. Where would these drugs be sold?
Answer. In the same places and under the same controls as
Question. Where would we obtain our supply of these legal
Answer. In the same way that there are manufacturers of
Do you for one minute think the tobacco industry has not
put together long ago contingency plans to produce
marijuana cigarettes when legalization becomes a reality?
Question. Would private industry be allowed to
participate in this market?
Answer. Of course. In the same way as in alcohol.
Question. If drugs would become legal, would we allow
pilots, railroad workers and nuclear plant employees to
Answer. Do we permit them to use alcohol?
Question. If drugs were legalized, how would we back up
our argument with our children and youth that drugs are
Answer. In the same way that we do with alcohol.
The Volstead Act, which made liquor illegal, created
violence, warfare, bloodshed, corruption, illicit dealers
and sellers on a sale that was unprecedented until now.
Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past by continuing
to escalate a war which is totally unnecessary.
ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF HON. LARRY SMITH OF FLORIDA
Legalization will not alleviate the drug problem. Drugs
such as heroin and cocaine destroy both the mind and the
body. The new form of cocaine known as crack or rock is
highly addictive. Legalizing drugs would be the same as
admitting that we, as a people and society, cannot control
our actions and prefer self-destruction. Who among us
wants the U.S. Government to be in the business of
distributing cocaine, heroin, PCP or any other killing,
Very few people believe that legalized drugs would reduce
the impact of drug abuse on society. Such a proposal
might eliminate some of the existing criminal element
involved in drug trafficking, but it would not stop
somebo4y (whether the government, tobacco companies, or
pharmaceutical companies) from profiting from the human
misery associated with drug use and abuse.
If we would not legalize drugs for juveniles (and we would
not), a flourishing market would still exist to sell to
them illegally. What about crime? If we distribute or
make legal drugs that cloud the mind or remove
inhibitions, does anyone believe that there will be less
crime? Does anyone believe that people who are on only a
fixed ration of free or legal drugs will not want more and
that someone will sell it to them illegally? And that to
pay for those extra" drugs the drug users will not commit
Congress should do everything it can to eliminate drug
trafficking and drug abuse. The task will not be easy,
but that does not mean that we cannot try to alleviate
this devastating problem. Legalization would be the easy
way out, but it would not solve the underlying problem.
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