Pubdate: Tue, 20 Feb 2001
Source: Andalusia Star-News (AL)
Copyright: 2001 The Andalusia Star-News
Contact:  207 Dunson Street, Andalusia, Alabama 36420
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear Editor:

Regarding the Feb. 16 editorial on methamphetamine: Meth is the 
latest dangerous drug to be making headlines throughout America, but 
it won't be the last until policy makers acknowledge the drug war's 
inherent failure.

Drug policies designed to protect children have given rise to a 
youth-oriented black market.

Unlike legitimate businesses that sell alcohol, illegal drug dealers 
do not ID for age, but they do push addictive drugs like meth. There 
are cost-effective alternatives to the failed drug war. Despite 
dramatically lower per capita spending on the drug problem, the 
Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by replacing 
marijuana prohibition with regulation.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets and establishing controls 
for age has proven more effective than zero tolerance. Dutch rates of 
drug use are significantly lower than U.S. rates in every category. 
As the most popular illicit drug in America, marijuana provides the 
black market contacts that introduce users to hard drugs. The 
"gateway" status ascribed to marijuana is the direct result of a 
fundamentally flawed policy. Given that marijuana is arguably safer 
than alcohol, it makes no sense to perpetuate policies that finance 
organized crime and facilitate the use of drugs like meth. 
Unfortunately for Americans, our leaders are more prone to 
counterproductive preaching than cost-effective pragmatism.

A dated comparison of Dutch vs. 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, DC
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MAP posted-by: Josh Sutcliffe