Pubdate: Thu, 30 May 2002
Source: Oklahoman, The (OK)
Copyright: 2002 The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


TO THE EDITOR: Regarding "Group shoulders new war on drugs" (news 
story, May 24): State Sen. Carol Martin, R-Comanche, is to be 
commended for her refreshingly honest take on the drug war. According 
to Martin, the nation has tried "Just Say No" and sending users to 
jail, but it's time to try something new. How about treating 
substance abuse as a health problem? As noted by Martin and Sen. 
Nancy Riley, R-Tulsa, drugs are tearing families apart. To be a 
little more precise, draconian drug laws are tearing families apart. 
Prison cells and criminal records are hardly appropriate health 
interventions. While Oklahoma's women legislators are making sense, 
the Drug Enforcement Administration is talking nonsense.

The latest DEA campaign seeks to link the war on drugs to the war on 
terrorism. The illicit drug of choice in America is domestically 
grown marijuana, not Afghan heroin or Colombian cocaine. The 
opportunistic drug-terror rhetoric coming out of Washington may lead 
naive Americans to mistakenly conclude that marijuana smokers are 
somehow responsible for Sept. 11.

Perhaps that's no accident. Taxing and regulating marijuana would 
derail the drug war gravy train. As long as marijuana remains illegal 
and distributed by organized crime, consumers will come into contact 
with hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C.

Sharpe is program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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