Benjamin Is Correct on Drug Trade Issue 

In his response to Scott Bass' article about Chief Rodney Monroe ("Richmonder of the Year," Cover Story, Jan. 2), Mr. Lewis Mills seems to be stuck on some very old thinking ("Chief Is Right Choice; Benjamin Is Off-Base," Letters, Jan. 16).

Mr. Mills lambastes attorney Steve Benjamin's thought that the murder rate is down because of the stability of the drug trade in Richmond. Well, that is precisely why. There are been several studies that prove this theory over and over. However, whenever the word drugs is mentioned, rational thinking seems to go out the window. While the addiction to certain drugs can certainly be the scourge of someone's life, the taking of them is not what causes the violence. What causes the violence is the "economy of the drug trade." The comparison to the era of Prohibition and the associated violence is too easy to make as it plays out before our eyes every day. It is time that we take a different approach to our drug problem. We will never stop the distribution of drugs. After all, the "war on drugs" has been ongoing for how long now? How is that working out?

We should follow the tobacco companies (I cannot believe I am saying that) and focus on education and treatment programs. If we can change the demand, then simple economics tells us prices will drop and thus the huge money found in the drug trade will diminish and violence will continue to decline. But we first must change outdated thinking.

Greg Cuenin

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