Pubdate: Tue, 22 Apr 2003
Source: North Island Gazette (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 North Island Gazette
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear editor,

How should Port Hardy respond to the growing use of crack cocaine (North 
Island Gazette, April 2)?

Here in the United States, New York City chose the zero-tolerance approach 
during the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. Mayor 
Marion Barry was smoking crack and the U.S. capital had the highest 
per-capita murder rate in the country. Yet crack use declined in both 
cities simultaneously.

The decline was not due to an anti-drug advertising campaign or the passage 
of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Simply put, the younger generation 
saw firsthand what crack was doing to their older siblings.

This is not to say that nothing can be done. Access to drug treatment is 
critical for the current generation of crack addicts.

In order to protect future generations from drugs like crack, policymakers 
need to adopt the Canadian Senate's commonsense recommendations regarding 

In the words of Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, "Scientific evidence 
overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than 
alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and 
public health issue."

Taxing and regulating marijuana is a cost-effective alternative to the 
never-ending drug war. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the 
hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with 
hard drugs.

This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Drug 
policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think 
the children are more important than the message.

For more information on the Canadian Senate report please visit:

The following National Institute of Justice study confirms the spontaneous 
post-'80s rejection of crack cocaine by the younger generation:

Robert Sharpe,

Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: Mr. Sharpe says he wrote in response to the Gazette article 
archived at the Media Awareness Project (MAP). He writes,"MAP is a media 
watchdog site dedicated to drug policy reform, i.e. public health 
alternatives to the drug war. Local readers send in drug policy related 
news articles that are posted on the web site. The brains behind MAP is a 
Canadian webmaster who lives in Metchosin, but MAP relies heavily on 
volunteer editors and 'newshawks' in English-speaking countries around the 
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MAP posted-by: Alex