Pubdate: Mon, 05 Mar 2001
Source: Daily Press (VA)
Copyright: 2001 The Daily Press
Contact:  7505 Warwick Boulevard, Newport News, Virginia 23607
Author: Robert Sharpe


Reference: "Newport News Police Say Raves Now An Area Problem." (Feb. 27).

Ecstasy is the latest illegal drug to be making headlines, but it won't be
the last until politicians acknowledge the drug war's inherent failure.
Drug policies modeled after our disastrous experiment with alcohol
prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug
dealers do not ID for age, but they do push trendy, profitable club drugs
like ecstasy, regardless of the dangers posed.

Sensible regulation is desperately needed to undermine the thriving
black market. As counterintuitive as it may seem, replacing marijuana
prohibition with regulation would do a better job protecting children
than the failed drug war. Marijuana is the most popular illicit drug.
Compared with toxic alcohol and addictive tobacco, marijuana is
relatively harmless. Yet marijuana prohibition is deadly. Although
there is nothing inherent in marijuana that compels users to try
harder drugs, its black market status puts users in contact with
criminals who sell them. Current drug policy is effectively a gateway
policy. As long as marijuana remains unregulated, the established
criminal distribution network will ensure that kids sample every new
poison concocted by drug pushers. Drug law reform may send the wrong
message to children, but I like to think that the children themselves
are more important than the message.

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