Pubdate: Wed, 20 Sep 2006
Source: Decatur Daily (AL)
Copyright: 2006 The Decatur Daily
Author: Robert Sharpe


Morgan County's hazardous methamphetamine labs are reminiscent of the
deadly exploding liquor stills that sprang up throughout the nation
during alcohol prohibition.

Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a
youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug dealers don't ask for age
identification, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences.
So much for protecting the children.

Throwing more money at the problem is no solution. Attempts to limit
the supply of drugs while demand remains constant only increase the
profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs like meth, 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. As long as
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard
drugs like meth. This "gateway" is the direct result of a
fundamentally flawed policy.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant
has never been shown to cause an overdose death -- 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 the children are more
important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Common Sense for Drug Policy Policy analyst

Arlington, Va. 
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