Pubdate: Tue, 05 Jun 2001
Source: North Shore News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 North Shore News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear Editor:

Re: One Battle In Biker War Won, Leo Knight, April 4

With the Hells Angels' drug trafficking disrupted by the RCMP, drug
dealing just got a little more lucrative. Attempts to limit the supply
of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the
profitability of drug trafficking.

In terms of addictive drugs, a temporary rise in street prices leads
desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate
habits. Make no mistake, the drug war doesn't fight crime -- it fuels

And let's not kid ourselves about protecting children. The thriving
black market has no controls for age, making it easier for teenagers
to buy illegal drugs than beer.

There are cost-effective alternatives. In Europe, the Netherlands has
successfully reduced overall drug use by replacing marijuana
prohibition with regulation. Separating the hard and soft-drug markets
and establishing age controls for marijuana has proven more effective
than zero tolerance.

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms
marijuana would be legal.  Alcohol kills thousands of Canadians each
year. Marijuana, on the other hand, has never been shown to cause an
overdose death.

Marijuana may be relatively harmless, but its prohibition is

As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana provides the black market
contacts that introduce users to drugs like heroin.

This gateway is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.
Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol, it makes no
sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance outlaw
biker gangs and needlessly expose children to dangerous drugs.

I regret not having Canadian statistics for you, but if you're
interested, a dated comparison of Dutch vs. U.S. rates of drug use can
be found at (

More recent figures can be found at (

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., Program Officer
The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation
Washington, DC
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