Pubdate: Fri, 23 Mar 2001
Source: Times-News, The (ID)
Copyright: 2001 Magic Valley Newspapers
Contact:  P.O. Box 548, Twin Falls, ID 83303
Fax: (208) 734-553
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Tim Williams is another drug war casualty, killed over $30 worth of 
marijuana by Jerome County sheriff's officers during a botched drug raid. 
We don't shoot alcoholics in this country, yet some people would have us 
believe that possession of a relatively harmless drug like marijuana, which 
has never been shown to cause an overdose death, justifies the use of 
deadly force.

Marijuana prohibition is an integral part of the larger drug war. In 1999, 
46 percent of the 1,532,200 total arrests nationwide for drug violations 
were for marijuana, 620,541 for possession alone. Marijuana laws consume 
enormous resources while failing miserably at preventing use. Illegal drug 
dealers don't identify for age, making it easier for teen-agers to buy 
illegal pot than beer.

There are cost-effective alternatives to the current approach. 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 illicit drug in America, marijuana provides the black 
market contacts that introduce users 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, it makes no 
sense to perpetuate policies that finance organized crime, facilitate the 
use of hard drugs and result in the untimely death of otherwise law-abiding 
Americans who smoke pot. How many more citizens will be sacrificed at the 
altar of the failed drug.


Washington, D.C.

(Editor's note: Robert Sharpe is a program officer with the Lindesmith 
Center-Drug Policy Foundation.)
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager