Pubdate: Wed, 20 Mar 2002
Source: Peterborough This Week (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Peterborough This Week
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the editor:

Ecstasy is the latest illegal drug to make headlines but it won't be the 
last until politicians acknowledge the drug war's inherent failure.

Drug policies modeled after the United State's disastrous experiment with 
alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market.

Illegal drug dealers do not I.D. for age but they do push trendy, 
profitable "club drugs" like ecstasy, regardless of the dangers posed. 
Driving drug use underground only compounds the problem.

During alcohol prohibition consumers in the U.S. went blind drinking 
unregulated bathtub gin.

The ecstasy variant, known as PMA, that has been taking young lives around 
the world is today's version of bathtub gin. The overdose victims all 
thought they were buying ecstasy but the black market has no controls for 
quality or age.

The drug war fails miserably at its primary mandate -- protecting children 
from drugs.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a 
cost-effective alternative to the never-ending drug war. 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 enforceable age controls. 
Right now, kids have an easier time buying pot than beer.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is especially critical. Marijuana 
may be relatively harmless compared to legal alcohol -- the plant 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 harder drugs.

Robert Sharpe,

M.P.A. Program officer, Drug Policy Alliance
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