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Letter: Others Pay a Price for Our Drug Use

To the Editor:

Sometimes you just have to hold your nose and swallow some bad-tasting medicine.

I just returned from a medical trip to Central America. Unfortunately, Latin American countries have the unenviable distinction of experiencing increasing levels of violence, largely the result of drugs being trafficked to the U.S. I never felt insecure while working among villagers, but I was reminded of how dangerous the region had become when traveling to the airport to return home. We passed police officers investigating what was apparently a premeditated homicide — the victim was lying dead on the highway with hands and feet bound.

Ethical guidelines should be based on principles and be applicable in a generalized way: Selling illicit drugs is a bad thing, for example. Ultimately, however, individuals make their own moral decisions, and history has shown that it is difficult to legislate morality, as was the case with alcohol and Prohibition.

I am glad to see that Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is not only considering decriminalizing marijuana, but also legalizing it. We need to go further; we should be legalizing all drugs, including cocaine and other narcotics. The war on drugs has been a dismal failure, and the hunger for illicit drugs in the U.S. is taking a heavy toll on the citizens of all of the countries south of the border. We need to eliminate dealers by taking the profit out of the drug market. Illicit drugs should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol. The government could use revenue generated by those sales to fund educational programs about the dangers of illicit drugs and for rehabilitation programs for those suffering from addiction.

Albert Einstein was credited with saying that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Please contact federal and state legislators, asking them to push for substantial and substantive reform in how we deal with our American drug problem.

Paul Manganiello