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Letter to the Editor... War on drugs has been a failure, treatment is answer

War on drugs has been a failure, treatment is answer To the Editor: In response to Thursday's article [Aug. 28, 2008], "Pertler to chair statewide group to examine drug laws," I want to raise concern about Pertler's statements that seemingly seek...

War on drugs has been a failure, treatment is answer

To the Editor:

In response to Thursday's article [Aug. 28, 2008], "Pertler to chair statewide group to examine drug laws," I want to raise concern about Pertler's statements that seemingly seek harsher penalties for drug offenders. In Thursday's article, Pertler states as a concern that first-time offenders arrested for cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin abuse are often given sentences of a year or less and that the sentencing guidelines for felonies of that magnitude normally suggest a four-year prison term. I hope that doesn't mean Mr. Pertler is suggesting that first-time drug offenders receive a four-year sentence.

Moreover, Mr. Pertler goes on to cite the state's marijuana laws as if they are too lenient because, for example, a small amount of marijuana is a petty misdemeanor. The fact is, despite years of government propaganda defining marijuana as otherwise, it is not a dangerous drug. One cannot overdose on it and it is the least habit forming of all drugs and that includes alcohol.

Furthermore, our prisons are already overflowing, due in large part to the incarceration of so many drug offenders, that it seems highly impractical to increase a first-time offense to a four-year prison term. I hope Mr. Pertler is looking into reducing the magnitude of a first-time offense, as opposed to the other when he cited the discrepancy. Mr. Pertler, and the task force as a whole, would be more wise to look into treating drug offenders rather than simply trying to punish our way out of this issue. To do the latter has failed time and again in this country and treatment for drug offenders is more cost-effective and more beneficial to society as a whole. I urge the commission when examining the state's drug laws to not just go for the politically popular route of increasing sentences, but rather realize that our war on drugs has been a failure and maybe we should look at this as more of a health problem.

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David Erickson

Chisholm, Minn.

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