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Newsgroups: alt.drugs
From: (Ross Bench)
Subject: Baltimore Sun 5-9-1991
Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1993 03:03:41 GMT
Message-ID: <>

From the Baltimore Sun 5-9-1991


By David Morris
St. Paul Minnesota

        It has been a while since drugs made the front page. So let me
        bring you up to date on recent findings about drug use that
        didn't make it to prime-time news.

        The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that the giant
        utility Utah Power and Light, "spent $215 per employee per year
        less on the drug abusers in health insurance benefits than on
        the control group." Employees that tested positive for drugs at
        Georgia Power Company had a higher promotion rate than the
        company average. Workers testing positive only for Marijuana
        exhibited absenteeism some 30 percent lower than average.

        Scientific American, after exhaustive research, found that the
        studies usually cited to prove the dangers of drug use in the
        workplace were either shoddy or misinterpreted. Astonishingly,
        the magazine could identify only one study on workplace drug use
        that has passed through the standard peer review process for
        scientific evaluation.

        That one, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine,
        studied 180 hospital employees, 22 of whom had tested positive
        after being hired. It found "no difference between drug-positive
        and drug-negative employees" with respect to supervisor
        evaluations or performance. Except for one intriguing item:
        Eleven of the negatives had been fired during their first year
        on the job, but none of the positives.

        More recently the American Psychologist, a peer-reviewed
        scientific journal, reported on a 15 year study of the San
        Francisco-area children by researchers Jonathan Shedler and Jack
        Block of the University of California at Berkley.

        Their report reveals that adolescents who occasionally use drugs
        are healthier than both drug abusers and drug abstainers.
        Moreover, those who abuse drugs as teen-agers have distinct
        behavioral problems that were identifiable years before theri
        drug use began. Drug use is a symptom, not a cause.

        Says Mr. Shedler, "the most effective drug prevention programs
        might not deal with drugs at all."

        In an interview published in the National Review, Michael S.
        Gazzaniga, professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School,
        discussed several studies that found that drug use increases in
        groups under stress, but that "the rate of addiction doesn't go
        up no matter what the degree of stress. Most people can walk
        away from high drug use if their lives become more normal."

        The British journal New Scientist reports research that found
        the majority of those who become dependant on Cocaine return to
        moderate use or total abstinence without treatment.

        Finally, Florida State University conducted a study for the
        Florida legislature of 45,096 people arrested for drug possesion
        in 1987. Eighty-eight percent had never been arrested for
        property crimes like burglary. Says professor David Rasmussen,
        "this study suggests we are incarcerating people for the use of
        drugs when they do not commit other crimes and tend not to
        commit other crimes."

        What are we to conclude ?

        Relying on these and many other studies, the Washington-based
        Drug Policy Foundation, a beacon of reason in a sea of hysteria,
        offers the following framework. Stress causes drug use. The vast
        majority of those who use drugs are casual users. Those who use
        drugs tend not to commit other crimes. Drugs in the workplace
        are not a serious burden on productivity.

        Which isn't to say there is no problem. There is. But it's a
        problem caused more by making drug use a crime than by the use

        "There is little argument that drug trafficking has played
        crucial role in spawning the rise of violent crime," the
        Washington Post recently observed. Gangs have spread from a
        localized phenomenon to nationally franchised businesses,
        financed by drug money and armed with ever-higher caliber
        weaponry. We're fueling a level of violence rarely seen before,
        a violence now spilling over into areas that don't involve

        We can't build new prisons fast enough to house all the drug
        users we want to put in them. In some states, education budgets
        are declining to guarantee sufficient money for jails. In our
        panic about drugs, we are willing to sacrifice not only our
        schools but our liberty. Forfeitures of property by drug users
        is rising into the hundreds of millions of dollars, and
        virtually all this revenue goes back into drug enforcement,
        creating an unhealthy symbiotic relationship between drug
        dealers and the police.

        Last year, for the first time, military troops were used on
        Marijuana raids. Strip-searches of high school students in
        Kansas and Missouri elicit little protest, even when no drugs
        are found. Anderson County, S.C., billboards announce, "Need
        cash? Turn in a drug dealer." Informers recieve as much as 25
        percent of the assets seized from drug raids.

        Public pronouncements notwithstanding, the evidence is piling up
        that the collateral damage from our War on Drugs far exceeds the
        damage from drug use itself.

        David Morris is a columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press.....