Pubdate: Tue, 14 Aug 2001
Source: Times-Union (IN)
Copyright: 2001 Times-Union
Author: Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.


Editor, Times-Union:

According to Mark Souder U.S. Representative ( R-Ind., District 4) 
methamphetamine use has reached epidemic levels and more law 
enforcement is the cure. Meth is the latest dangerous drug to be 
making headlines, but it won't be the last until policymakers 
acknowledge the drug war's inherent failure. Attempts to limit the 
supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase 
the profitability of drug trafficking. The obscene profits to be made 
guarantee replacement dealers. In terms of addictive drugs like meth, 
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. With alcohol prohibition repealed, liquor producers 
no longer gun each down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go 
blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin.

Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a 
youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug dealers don't ID for age, 
but they do push addictive drugs like meth. There are cost-effective 
alternatives. 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 has proven more effective 
than zero tolerance.

As the most popular illegal drug, marijuana provides the black market 
contacts that introduce youth to hard drugs like meth. This "gateway" 
is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Given that 
marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol - pot has never been 
shown to cause an overdose death - it makes no sense to waste tax 
dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and 
facilitate the use of highly addictive drugs hard drugs. Drug policy 
reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think 
the children themselves are more important than the message. 
Opportunistic "tough on drugs" politicians would no doubt disagree.

A dated comparison of Dutch v. American 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, D.C.
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