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Responding to the Escalating Drug War

In the front-page article "War on Drugs, Two Decades Later: Critics Say It's Failed," Aug. 27, the author points out that drug trafficking has increased in the past 10 years and drug prosecutions in federal courts have increased a stunning 229 percent. It is reported that 113 million Americans are behind bars, with 60 percent of them having been in drug-related crimes. No wonder our prisons are overcrowded.

The war on drugs is estimated at more than $70 billion, not including the cost of keeping criminals in prison. That's a lot of money coming out of tax-payers' pockets - money that could better be spent on schools, job-training, health care, and help for the homeless.

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As stated, the problem is not with the Central and South American countries which produce the stuff, but in the United States, which is the largest drug-user. This drug war could be reduced by 95 percent in a few weeks. If narcotics were legalized the bottom would fall out of the market. Take away the enormous profits in the illicit trade, and there would be little incentive to produce and push drugs.

Drugs are harmful, but what an addict has to do to obtain them is even more harmful: theft prostitution, bribery, and even murder. Those who profit from the trade strongly oppose legalizing drugs. Charlton Smith, Renton, Wash.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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