Pubdate: Tue, 08 May 2001
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Section: Opinion, Pg A14
Copyright: 2001 Calgary Herald
Author: Robert Sharpe


In criticizing New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson's drug policy reform advocacy, 
Nigel Hannaford fails to consider the children he's intent on protecting 
have an easier time buying illegal drugs than beer. Unlike legitimate 
businesses that sell alcohol, drug dealers don't ID for age.  I 
respectfully disagree with Hannaford's conclusion that regulation is not 
the answer. Taxing and regulating marijuana would separate the hard and 
soft drug markets and eliminate the gateway to drugs like cocaine and 
heroin. Establishing strict age controls is critical.

No system is foolproof, but undermining the youth-oriented black market is 
a step in the right direction. The crime, corruption and overdose deaths 
attributed to illegal drugs are all direct results of drug prohibition. 
With alcohol prohibition repealed, U.S. liquor producers no longer gun each 
other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go blind drinking 
unregulated bathtub gin.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant 
only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. The drug war doesn't 
fight crime, it fuels crime. 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.
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