Pubdate: Sun, 16 Jun 2002
Source: Post-Standard, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002, Syracuse Post-Standard
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the Editor:

Former police officer Jack Cole, in Sean Kirst's June 7 Post-Standard 
column, described the drug war as an "abject failure." He's absolutely 
right. Not only is so-called drug-related crime in reality 
prohibition-related, but drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition 
have given rise to a youth-oriented black market.

Illegal drug dealers don't ID for age, but they do recruit minors immune to 
adult sentences. So much for protecting the children.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a 
cost-effective alternative to the never-ending drug war. There is a big 
difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from 
drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana use 
and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records.

What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls. Separating 
the hard and soft drug markets is critical. Marijuana may be relatively 
harmless compared to alcohol - pot has never been shown to cause an 
overdose death - but marijuana prohibition is deadly. As long as marijuana 
distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will 
continue to come into contact with hard drugs like cocaine.

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

Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Ariel