HON. GERALD B.H. SOLOMON OF NEW YORK in the House of Representatives Thursday, March 2, 1995
Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, let me commend to you the following article written by a distinguished doctor and chairman of the International Drug Strategy Institute, Eric A. Voth, M.D. Dr. Voth advocates retaining tough drug laws to guard against rising crime and experimentation. Citing Holland as an example, the legalization of drugs has resulted in greatly increased crime and addiction. The only way to combat the increase of drug use in this country is to stand firm against recent attempt by prodrug groups to mute public awareness. These groups attempt to disguise the dangers of drug abuse and consequently jeopardize future generations.
REPEATING HISTORY’S MISTAKES
The international drug policy debate rages regarding decisions whether to fundamentally change drug policy toward legalization or decriminalization of drug use, or to remain with restrictive policies. If we examine two examples of softening of drug policy, we will find ample reason to continue with restrictive policy.
In the mid to late 1970’s during the Carter administration, drug policy visibly softened. Several states decriminalized marijuana, and in fact Alaska legalized marijuana. Drug policy `specialists’ in their infinite wisdom supported the flawed concept called `responsible use’ of drugs as a way that users could maintain personal use of drugs and avoid the ravages of addiction and physical problems.
Permissive drug policy originated with organizations like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. President Carter’s drug policy advisor Peter Bourne, as well as others like Arnold Trebach, Mathea Falco, Peter Reuter, Mark Kleiman helped to press for the lenient policy.
Interestingly, during that time the use of marijuana and other drugs drastically increased. Use also increased in adolescents despite the fact that drugs never become legal or decriminalized for that age group. The use of marijuana among high school students in Oregon during decriminalization was double that of the national average. National averages of marijuana use among high school seniors increased to 50% of seniors having used in the previous year, and 10.7% used daily.
Ultimately, parents began to object to the rampant use of drugs , especially marijuana, among their children. In the early 1980’s the `parents’ anti-drug movement began. Because of the drastic failure of lenient drug policies, steady pressure was exerted at national and local levels for restrictive drug policies. A huge national wave of high quality research, grassroots prevention organizations, and tightening of drug laws began.
Predictably, the use of drugs among `recreational’ users dropped. High school seniors use of marijuana dropped to 23% of seniors using within the last year and 2% using on a daily basis. The use among hard addicts did not drop. Strangely the cry has been sounded by some that the drug war did not work. That outcry, however, was almost exclusively being sounded by individuals who favored legalization or decriminalization back in the 1970’s. The same individuals who called for soft policy in the earlier era are calling for the new harm reduction policy today. Hidden within such policy is the intent to gain decriminalization of drugs .
Holland has decriminalized drugs and tried harm reduction. Since the softening of drug policy there, shootings have increased 40%, robberies 62%, and car thefts 62%. This experiment which was meant to decrease organized crime has resulted in an increase in organized crime families from 3 in 1988 to 93 today.
The number of registered marijuana addicts has risen 30% and the number of other addicts has risen 22%.
The major difference between today and the 1970’s is that the prolegalization effort is more organized and better funded. The millionaire Richard Dennis from Chicago has given millions to the drug legalization effort. Billionaire George Soros has given $6 million to the Drug Policy Foundation to help seek legalization of drugs . He created the Open Society Fund which in turn funds Mathea Falco’s Drug Strategies organization. Steadily, these groups put a happy and acceptable face on the idea of drug legalization or decriminalization.
Their public relation campaign has softened public attitudes. Moves such as full page ads in national newspapers suggesting alternatives to drug policy are examples. Organized efforts at such ideas as hemp as a fiber alternative, medical marijuana, needle exchanges, therapeutic LSD, and others pervade the media. The Internet is bristling with pro-drug talk groups discussing recent drug experiences and how and where to obtain drugs .
In the face of these facts, the holdovers from the 70’s drug policy makers are still asking for lenient drug laws. A substantial number of today’s addicts started their use under the lenient policies of the 1970’s. We have had our experience with decriminalization, and it is time that we recognize it and put that concept to bed.
The only hope for drug policy is a concerted effort of drug prevention which upholds the notion of no drug use, drug interdiction, and drug treatment. If we soften our hold on an already vexing problem, we will lose the war.