Pubdate: Mon, 07 May 2001
Source: Fayetteville Observer-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2001 Fayetteville Observer-Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


This letter is in response to the excellent April 25 editorial, "Crashing 
In Peru," which said that the deaths of two innocent members of an American 
missionary family in Peru should serve as a wake-up call.

Autocratic former president Alberto Fujimori practiced a scorched-earth 
campaign against Peru's Shining Path guerrilla movement, a movement 
financed by black-market coca profits.

Allegations of corruption, rampant human rights violations and civilian 
deaths are remarkably similar to the current situation in Colombia. How 
many innocent Peruvians have been sacrificed at the altar of America's drug 
war? As Peruvian coca production has gone down, Colombian coca production 
and domestic methamphetamine production have both gone up, along with the 
incarceration rate in the United States, now the highest in the world.

When will the champions of the free market in Congress acknowledge that 
immutable laws of supply and demand render the drug war a costly exercise 
in futility? This is not to say that all drugs should be legalized. Taxing 
and regulating marijuana would effectively undermine the black market.

Marijuana currently provides the black market contacts who introduce users 
to drugs like cocaine. Current drug policy is a gateway policy. Separating 
the hard and soft drug markets and establishing strict age controls is 
critical. Right now kids have an easier time buying pot than beer.

Drug policy reform might send the wrong message to children. But I would 
like to think that children are more important than the message. 
Opportunistic "tough on drugs" politicians would no doubt disagree.

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