It’s simply not true to say “The war on drugs isn’t working” [editorial, Nov. 13] and assert that it is “difficult to know how new drug laws will affect drug usage.” There is a record on both points.

Monthly recreational drug use is down almost 40 percent from the 15 percent use rate in the 1960s and 1970s to 9 percent now. Now, with legalization and decriminalization — and with use easier and less punitive — Washington, Oregon and Colorado have seen a 6 percent increase in car crashes. Studies show that in states where recreational marijuana is legal, problematic use increased by 25 percent among adolescents 12 to 17, and by 26 percent among adults.

Imagine what the numbers for use, car crashes, treatment and hospitalizations will be if the new Oregon all-drugs decriminalization is implemented. Luckily, Congress, aware of these risks, and despite efforts by Big Pot financial interests to repeat the mistakes of Big Tobacco, has resisted. Federal law on illegality remains and supersedes state laws.

Treatment is a better approach than prison for the individual and society where possible. That’s why drug courts mandating treatment have increased from 12 in 1995 to more than 3,000 now.

Imagine if we decreased by 40 percent the heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, poverty or hunger. Would we say those efforts were a failure?  No, we’d say great, but we have more to do. The same is true for drug policy.

Robert S. Weiner, Accokeek

The writer was director of public

affairs for the Office of National Drug Control Policy from 1994 to 2001.