Pubdate: Mon, 06 May 2002
Source: Guardian, The (CN PI)
Copyright: 2002 The Guardian, Charlottetown Guardian Group Incorporated
Author: Robert Sharpe



I hope Canadian taxpayers didn't spend too much on the Canadian Centre on 
Substance Abuse study mentioned in your May 1st article. That alcohol is 
the drug most often associated with violent behaviour is well established. 
The United States tried prohibiting alcohol once, with disastrous results. 
Organized crime flourished and kids had easier access to alcohol than ever 
once mobsters took over the distribution.

The lessons learned and their relevance to the drug war are unfortunately 
lost on today's policymakers. Forcibly limiting the supply of illegal drugs 
while demand remains constant only increases the profitability of drug 
trafficking. In terms of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street 
prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed 
desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a 
cost-effective alternative to 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 enforceable age controls.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. Marijuana may be 
relatively harmless compared to legal 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.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program officer Drug Policy Alliance,

Washington, DC 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Alex