Pubdate: Tue, 14 Aug 2001
Source: Times Union (NY)
Copyright: 2001 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Robert Sharpe


First published: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 In defending the Rockefeller drug 
laws, Paul A. Clyne, Albany County district attorney, states (in his Aug. 3 
article) that the connection between drug dealing and violent crime is well 
documented. True, but the drug war's tremendous collateral damage doesn't 
justify its continuation. With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor 
producers no longer gun each down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers 
go blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin. The crime, corruption and 
overdose deaths attributed to drugs are all direct results of drug 
prohibition. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand 
remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. In 
terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads 
desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. 
The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

And let's not kid ourselves about protecting children. The black market's 
lack of age controls makes it easier for kids to buy illegal drugs than 
beer. In Europe, the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use 
by replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation. Dutch rates of drug use 
are significantly lower than U.S. rates in every category. Separating the 
hard and soft drug markets and establishing age controls for marijuana have 
proven more effective than zero tolerance. Politicians need to stop 
worrying about the message that drug policy reform sends to children and 
start thinking about the children themselves.

Program Officer The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation Washington, D.C.
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