The InterAmerican dialogue recently urged the United States to focus on demand in combating its drug problem.
One thing that is clear from the commission's report on durg trafficking is how addiction confounds experts of all types and nationalities.One specialist wants political sanctions. Another puts faith in education. On one occasion, the news-making group of the day demanded doubling or tripling drug treatment budgets. Later, another promises that harsh sentences without parole will provide the answer.
None of the strategies is perfect. Clearly, none has been successful to date. All contain simple solutions that are innately flawed.
One of them, much as most authorities would deny it, is the wistful hope that a terrible disease can be conquered in one fell swoop and put behind us forever.
A little of the American character of getting on to the next frontier shows. It doesn't diminish the worth of good ideas.
The InterAmerican group, composed of solid citizens from the United States, Latin America and Canada, makes good sense in focusing on the people who are soaking up illegal drugs.
If these people didn't provide a market--and unlike most consumer goods in this country, drugs haven't needed any media promotion to expand that market--there would be no profits.
The next contributing layer is greed. The profit margin from production to street sale, according to the InterAmerican report, is 12,000 percent. That's not a typographical error.
The same day the international group issued its report, the National School Boards Association warned that public schools are doing better against drugs than they are against alcohol. Scant victory.
The association did urge that drug education begin in kindergarten and took a stand against simply kicking students out of school for drug abuse. They may not know it, but the two organizations are talking about the same people.