Pubdate: Mon, 23 Apr 2001
Source: Repository, The
Copyright: 2001 The Repository
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the April 14 editorial "War on 'Oxy'": How refreshing to read an 
editorial that acknowledges the hy pocrisy of the War on Some Drugs! If 
health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana 
would be legal. Alcohol poisoning kills thousands annually. Marijuana, on 
the other hand, has never been shown to cause an overdose death.

The first marijuana laws were a racist reaction to Mexican laborers' taking 
jobs from whites during the early 1900s. These days, marijuana is confused 
with '60s counterculture by Americans who would like to turn the clock back 
to the 1950s. This intergenerational culture war does far more harm than 

Drug policies designed to protect children have given rise to a 
youth-oriented black market. As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana 
provides the black market contacts that introduce users to hard drugs such 
as heroin. This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed 
policy. It makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that 
finance organized crime and needlessly expose children to dangerous drugs.

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. Drug policy reform may send the 
wrong message to children, but I like to think the children themselves are 
more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C., Program officer, Lindesmith Center, Drug 
Policy Foundation
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D