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To the Editor:

"No worse than..."

Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico thinks our approach to illegal drugs needs to be rethought ("United States Would Do Well To End Its Modern-Day Prohibition," 1/3/2001.) Despite billions of dollars spent and millions of offenders imprisoned, the problem grows worse. So, because marijuana use is so common and seems to be less of a public health problem than our legal drugs -- alcohol and tobacco -- he (and he is not alone in this) suggests it be legalized.

Despite the obvious concern that ought to be raised about the logic ("let's see, legal drugs are a bigger problem, therefore we should make more drugs legal"), it ignores the demand side, the whole question of why are people using drugs. There is a bigger picture here and it can't be just poverty or unemployment or racial discrimination because that does not fit the data.

Since faith-based treatment programs have by far the best success rate in rescuing drug addicts and because people with a strong religious commitment are more resistant to becoming involved with drugs, it would make sense to look there -- even if it is politically incorrect to do so. Think about it, if you are told that you are a cosmic accident, a chance collection of molecules with no purpose and no future, and further that there is no absolute right or wrong or ultimate accountability to God or anybody, then why not try drugs?

The only other question is why the intellectual elite either cannot see this or refuse to pursue it. Could it be that they want to avoid the idea that their lives may ultimately come under the judgment of their Creator?

Ross Olson MD
Minneapolis MN

This letter was published by the Star Tribune as Accountability and Addiction".

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