Pubdate: Mon, 19 Apr 2004
Source: Newsday (NY)
Copyright: 2004 Newsday Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Sheryl McCarthy's "Ex-aide goes to bat for medical
marijuana" [Opinion, April 8]: Former U.S. surgeon general Joycelyn
Elders is to be commended for boldly making the case for marijuana
regulation. Drug policies modeled after 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 sentencing guidelines.

Throwing more money at the drug problem is no solution. Attempts to
limit supply while demand remains constant only increase the
profitability of trafficking. For 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

Taxing and regulating marijuana is a cost-effective alternative to a
never-ending drug war. As long as marijuana distribution remains in
the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into
contact with harder drugs. This "gateway" is the direct result of a
fundamentally flawed policy.

Marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol; 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 that children are more
important than the message.

Robert Sharpe

Editor's Note: The writer is policy analyst of Common Sense for Drug Policy.
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