(This is another e-mail I received today. I can't believe ABC is behind this? With the Phil Donahue chat tonight and then John Stossel on Tuesday, this may be a start to something interesting.) Dear friends, Below is a message from ABC's John Stossel about his drug policy news special on Tuesday night at 10 p.m. Eastern Time. I encourage everyone to watch it and ask others in your congregation to do the same. Perhaps videotape it and arrange to show it at your church? All the best, Chuck Thomas UUs for Drug Policy Reform http://www.uudpr.org ABC NEWS SPECIAL "WAR ON DRUGS, A WAR ON OURSELVES WITH JOHN STOSSEL" ON THIS TUESDAY, JULY 30, 2002 10 P.M EST ABC has given me a full hour Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET for a show on the drug war. I use the time to raise the question: Does the "War on Drugs" do more harm than the drugs? I think it does. We know the terrible things drug abuse does, but we rarely consider the terrible things drug prohibition does. The government declaring drugs illegal doesn't mean people can't get them. (We cannot even keep the drugs out of prisons -- how could we keep them out of America?) It only means people get drugs on the black market, where they pay more for them. This creates the nasty, unintended consequences of the drug war: l. It sucks children into the underworld. Why should a kid from a poor neighborhood work at McDonald's, when he can make 10 times the money selling drugs? Those who resist the temptation are heroic. The neighborhood role models, the people with the best cars and the best clothing, are drug dealers. Who commands respect in the neighborhood? Criminals! Had I grown up there, I bet I would have succumbed. We interview the kids. 2. It corrupts cops. How many cops turn down a bribe that would double their pay? We'll show video of a police officer taking the money. 3. It corrupts entire countries. We go to Colombia, which now produces most of America's heroin and cocaine. I don't recommend vacationing there. Colombia is now the world leader in kidnappings. Murder is common. There have already been 15 attempts on the life of Colombia's next president; he's decided to stay in Europe until his inauguration next month. Drug money trumps law. 4. It creates crime. Films like "Reefer Madness" (we'll show you a clip) suggested people take drugs and go crazy. In reality, people rarely get violent because they're high on drugs. Most drugs users get high privately, live a reasonably normal life, and eventually quit. The violence we associate with drugs happens because warring dealers arm themselves to protect their turf, and because addicts steal to pay the high prices for drugs. Nicotine is about as addictive as cocaine or heroin, but few people rob 7-11s to get Marlboros or Budweiser. Drugs hurt people, but it's the law that causes most of the crime. Alcohol prohibition gave rise to criminals like Al Capone; drug prohibition is making criminals even richer. The State Department says that's how Osama bin Laden got some of his money. So what should be done? I talk to a Bronx priest who argues that life would be better if drugs were legal. "Legal means control," says Father Joseph Kane. "Illegal means the bad guys have control." California Judge James Gray agrees. "Hold people accountable for what they do, not for what they put into their bodies," he says. The head of the DEA, Asa Hutchinson, calls these arguments "giving in." I go to Europe to look at the "Dutch experiment" which separated "hard" and "soft" drugs by legalizing the sale of marijuana in licensed "coffee shops." The menus offer marijuana joints, baggies, teas and chocolates. Despite legalization, fewer Dutch teens use marijuana than American teens. Today police in most of Europe ignore marijuana use. In Spain, Italy and Luxembourg, they've decriminalized most drug use, and in Portugal recently, all drug use. Switzerland and a few other countries now prescribe heroin to some addicts. I visit a Rotterdam priest who allows addicts to smoke and inject heroin in "user rooms" in the church basement. Rotterdam's local police superintendent says the problem is "bigger" when the police interfere. LEGAL drugs sounds frightening -- but the DRUG WAR is frightening too. Legal drugs might lead more Americans to experiment, but would it create a health crisis? I suspect use would go up, and then down, as it did with crack. People aren't endlessly foolish. In any case, don't we own our own bodies? Whose decision is it to control what we put in our own bodies? Ours? Or the state's?