While Jesse Helms blackmails our Latin American neighbors into spending hundreds of millions of dollars to spray poisons on coca farmers in Colombia ("Could Columbia Survive Without This Plant?" by Alan Weisman, Sept. 24), he continues to support, and accept support from the tobacco lobby. Yet, the U.S. surgeon general says tobacco kills 80 to 100 times more people each year in this country United States than all illegal drugs combined.
And we're still losing the war on drugs; supply and quality is up, prices are down. Where are our priorities? Perhaps we should do as we did in Vietnam. Declare ourselves the winners and walk away from a lost cause.
Richard A. Hein
Some day, when China is fully mobilized and more powerful than we are, it may decide to blame all their cancer deaths on our tobacco. When their operatives descent on Virginia and the Carolinas, as we are now doing to Colombia and Bolivia, we won't have much to say Our current anti-cocaine activity will have served as a good precedent.
Legalization of drug use would open the market to a regulated, low-cost supply. The Eighteenth Amendment and laws that implemented it neither forbade nor regulated human nature--that is, consumption. With usage decriminalized, ethical pharmacists could act as suppliers while dedicated professional therapists could prescribe and treat, freed from the potential stigma of abetting criminal behavior. It is worth a try.
James L. Appleton