Tracknum: 16837.68047186f8e7d2119c9900805f65f19e0acc8b5
Pubdate: Wed, 28 Aug 2002
Source: Brewton Standard, The (AL)
Copyright: 2002 Brewton Standard
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the editor: In his Aug. 22nd column, Robert Blankenship describes the 
very real dangers posed by Escambia County's volatile methamphetamine labs. 
Hazardous meth labs are reminiscent of the deadly exploding liquor stills 
that sprung up throughout the nation during alcohol prohibition. 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.

There are cost-effective alternatives to the never-ending drug war. In 
Europe, the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by 
replacing marijuana prohibition with adult regulation. Dutch rates of drug 
use are significantly lower than U.S. rates in every category. Separating 
the hard and soft drug markets and establishing age controls for marijuana 
has proven more effective than zero tolerance.

Here in the U.S. marijuana provides the black market contacts that 
introduce addictive drugs like meth. This "gateway" is the direct result of 
a fundamentally flawed policy. Given that marijuana is arguably safer than 
legal alcohol - the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death - 
it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance 
organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. Drug policy reform 
may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children 
are more important than the message.

A dated comparison of Dutch vs. American rates of drug use can be found at: and more recent figures can be 
found at:

Sincerely, Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance