Reducing drug use and drug-related problems will not be achieved by either
fully legalizing drugs or by adopting a zero-tolerance policy, according to
research by a UC Berkeley professor.

According to a new book by UC Berkeley public policy and law professor
Robert MacCoun and University of Maryland professor Peter Reuter, the
solution to the nation's drug problem lies somewhere in the middle.

"Drug Heresies" proposes alternatives to strict prohibition of marijuana,
cocaine and heroin use. Western European countries have had success with
more moderate approaches, MacCoun wrote. In the United States, he said,
such approaches are overlooked by government officials who want to appear
tough on drugs.

"In this country, we really don't have a serious debate," MacCoun said in a
statement. "Politicians are afraid to be seen as soft on drugs."

In the book, the professors say criminalization of drug use is responsible
for many of the country's drug problems. They say the high prices for drugs
on the black market lead people to commit property crimes and thefts.

Fully legalizing drugs, on the other hand, would lead to large increases in
drug use. Their research finds that more people would use drugs if they
were legal.

Reuter notes that there is not a strong case for legalization and contends
that efforts must be made to improve the prohibition system and make it
work better.

The authors say drug policy-makers must work to reduce drug use and
diminish the adverse effects of prohibition.

They said there would be little risk if marijuana were legalized, but also
that little would be gained. They also found no way that cocaine and heroin
use could be regulated.

Newshawk: Sledhead
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Nov 2001
Source: Daily Californian, The (CA Edu)
Copyright: 2001 The Daily Californian