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Grand jury suggests distribution of drugs to fight evils of trafficking Report nonbinding, calls for a study; O'Malley says figures used aren't recent -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- By Tom Pelton Sun Staff Originally published May 8, 2003
A Baltimore grand jury released yesterday a report recommending that the government and doctors become drug dealers, distributing narcotics in limited doses to addicts as a way of eliminating the profit and violence from the drug trade. The report of the grand jury, impaneled by Circuit Judge Althea Handy in January, is nonbinding and calls first for a university study of the idea to see if it would be feasible.
"Conventional modes of attacking the drug problem simply aren't working," wrote the panel of 23 residents, led by foreman Clark J. Matthews. "Regulated distribution begins with the recognition that addiction is a continuing, progressive illness rather than a crime."
The report also calls for increased drug treatment, job training, education and housing assistance for addicts instead of arrest and incarceration.
Mayor Martin O'Malley, whose administration has increased drug arrests by two-thirds and increased the number of people receiving drug treatment by 60 percent during the past three years, said that the grand jury did not appear to have the most recent facts about the city's successes in fighting drug addiction.
The grand jury's report estimates that the city has 60,000 substance abusers. A more recent estimate, made by the city's health commissioner, Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, is that the number of abusers probably has dropped to about 40,000 during the past three years, in part because of increased treatment.
Federal statistics show that drug-related deaths in the city dropped by almost a fifth between 1999 and 2001, and that the number of drug-related emergency room visits fell by about 25 percent.
"Giving out heroin is diametrically opposed to the approach we are taking," O'Malley said. "If the grand jury is recommending this, they are ignoring the reality of the progress we're making. We've been leading the nation in the rate of decline of drug-related emergency room visits."
Administrative Judge Ellen M. Heller said that the report was not the opinion of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City, but of a panel of residents who are not experts.
Heller noted that she agreed with the report's suggestion that the government provide more long-term drug treatment programs. The report also suggests that the government regulate the price, distribution and purity of narcotics. Addicts would have to register to purchase drugs, then get prescriptions from a clinic or doctor to buy the drugs at a pharmacy.
Quote: Giving out heroin is diametrically opposed to the approach we are taking," O'Malley said. "If the grand jury is recommending this, they are ignoring the reality of the progress we're making. We've been leading the nation in the rate of decline of drug-related emergency room visits."
It sounds like most common people are getting tired of the losing war on drugs effort. As more and more people begin to voice their displeasure, it will eventuallyl become socially acceptable to vote the war on drugs. The police are just following policy, but the lawmakers had better start paying attention before they are out of a job.
How long until drugs are available to any adult that wishes to buy them. Taxes from their sales would be spent on abuse centers, emergency rooms, and education. Children would be honestly taught the dangers, and benefits of drug use. Our homes would once again become our castles...
Oh wait, reality check here...
-------------------- Just another spore in the wind.