Pubdate: Thu, 17 May 2001
Source: Valley Voice, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 The Valley Voice
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the creation of 'drug free' zones in Nakusp, alcohol kills more 
students every year than all illegal drugs combined.  The second most 
popular recreational drug, tobacco, is one of the most addictive substances 
known to man.  Yet 'drug free' school zones will primarily target 
marijuana, the third most popular recreational drug and arguably the safest.

If health outcomes determined drug laws, instead of cultural norms, 
marijuana would be legal.  Marijuana is not physically addictive and has 
never been shown to cause an overdose death.

As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana provides the black market 
contacts that introduce teenagers to hard drugs like heroin.   This 
'gateway' is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.  The drug 
war makes it easier for kids to buy pot than beer.  Drug dealers don't ID 
for age.

In Europe, the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by 
replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation.  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.  Opportunistic 'tough on drugs' politicians 
would no doubt disagree.

I regret not having Canadian statistics for you... a dated comparison of 
Dutch vs. US. rates of drug use can be found 

More recent figures can be found at :

Robert Sharpe,

The Lindesmith Centre-Drug Policy Foundation

Washington, DC
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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens