Pubdate: Sat, 19 Oct 2002
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Page: Page A21
Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company
Author: Bruce McKinney


Thanks to Asa Hutchinson, director of the Drug Enforcement
Administration, for making the case for drug regulation and taxation.
Of course, Hutchinson never intended to make this case. He favors the
drug anarchy that we now see in our cities and even in small towns.
But his description of a London neighborhood where drugs sales are
tolerated on the streets is all too familiar.

Whether or not drug possession is banned, police are unable to control
or eliminate the black market. Hutchinson tries to pretend that the
problems he describes are unique to this neighborhood and that they
appeared when police relaxed marijuana enforcement. But an unbiased
observer can see the same problems in any American city, and in
particular in American high schools.

We have tried Hutchinson's formula -- drug enforcement combined with
anti-drug messages -- for many years, but the problems get worse, not
better. The solution is tough regulation that takes drugs out of the
black market and controls access by teenagers. Adults can make their
own decisions about the risks and benefits of drugs. Although alcohol
is our most dangerous drug, millions of American adults use it
responsibly under a regulated system. A similar system could work for
marijuana, which is less dangerous and is usually used in moderation.

Under a regulated system, teenagers would at least have to fool an
adult (as they do for alcohol) instead of simply buying drugs from
other teenagers.

Bruce McKinney
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