Pubdate: Tue, 26 Dec 2000
Source: Spokesman-Review (WA)
Copyright: 2000 Cowles Publishing Company
Contact:  P.O. Box 2160 Spokane, WA 99210
Fax:  (509) 459-5482
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the Dec. 20 editorial on methamphetamine production in Spokane, 
meth is the latest dangerous drug to make headlines across America but it 
won't be the last. When it comes to protecting children from drugs, the 
drug war fails miserably. The thriving black market is very much youth 
oriented. Unlike legitimate businesses that sell liquor, illegal drug 
dealers working the black market do not ID for age but they do push 
profitable, addictive drugs like meth when given the chance. Sensible 
regulation is desperately needed to undermine the black market and restrict 
access to illicit drugs. Marijuana is the most popular illicit drug. 
Compared to legal alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is relatively harmless. 
Yet marijuana prohibition is deadly. While there is nothing inherent in 
marijuana that compels users to try drugs like meth or heroin, its black 
market status puts users in contact with criminals who push them. Current 
drug policy is effectively a gateway policy.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, replacing marijuana prohibition with 
regulation would do a better job protecting children from drugs than the 
failed drug war.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., Washington, D.C.
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