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Dear Readers: When I published my opinion about the legalization of drugs (May 3), did I get letters! The following are a sample from readers who disagreed:

Dear Abby: You should be ashamed of yourself for endorsing efforts to legalize drugs. If your concern is to reduce crowded prisons, why not go all the way and legalize burglary, rape and murder? It would reduce the prison population considerably.Of course, this would lead to a great deal of unemployment - particularly among the defense attorneys and those attorneys employed by the "American Criminal Liberty Union."

Maybe under your plan, those brain-dead and brain-damaged druggies could pick up a daily welfare check every morning when they get their daily fix, with just a moderate increase in government employees.

- Gene Riley, San Antonio

Dear Abby: How can you approve the legalization of drugs? Who will be responsible for the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke that may cause a car accident?

Are you willing to board a plane with 200 passengers, knowing the pilot and crew were snorting "coke"? Or get into a taxi with a hopped-up driver? Or allow an eye surgeon who has had a drag or two of grass to perform laser surgery on you?

Abby, perhaps you should visit the hospitals (and graves) of those maimed and killed by the moderate use of drugs and alcohol. Ask any policeman.

- W. Hill, Fairfax, Va.

Dear Abby: As both a police officer and attorney, I have had the opportunity to examine the different sides of the drug issue.

Drug-related crime is not limited solely to the dealers. The user must support his/her habit. To expect the user to be able to hold a steady job is nonsense. Those in law enforcement will tell you that drug users obtain their money by victimizing others. The person with a $200-a-day heroin habit must steal $2,000 worth of merchandise to support his/her need. Multiply that by the number of people currently addicted, and you can see how drug use affects all of society.

Drug use is a common factor in child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes. By supporting the legalization of something that has caused pain to so many, we send the wrong message to society.

Instead, we should let those who engage in the use or sale of drugs know that, as a nation, we will continue to enforce the laws that are designed to protect the innocent.

- John G. Iannarelli, San Diego

Dear Abby: I am 11 years old and in fifth grade and read the letter from the attorney who said drugs should be legal. I think that's stupid. I am in D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class and I have learned a lot about drugs. If drugs were legal, kids might use them thinking they are harmless. Well, they are not. Drugs can kill you if you use them a lot.

Abby, you said if drugs were legal the jails would not be as full. Well, they would be even fuller because if you take drugs and drive, you might get into an accident, and if you didn't die you would go to jail; then the media would take over all the commercials and make kids think drugs are cool. I think drugs should stay illegal forever.

- Kelley A. Grosshuesch,

Batavia, Ill.

Dear Messrs. Riley, Hill and Iannarelli, and Kelley: Thanks for expressing your views concerning the legalization of drugs. I received hundreds of responses.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)