Pubdate: Fri, 05 May 2006
Source: Star-Banner, The (Ocala, FL)
Copyright: 2006 The Star-Banner
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Regarding Bill Thompson's April 30 column, hazardous methamphetamine 
labs are reminiscent of the deadly exploding liquor stills that 
sprang up throughout the nation during alcohol prohibition. 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 sentences. So much for 
protecting the children.

Throwing more money at the problem is no solution. Attempts to limit 
the supply of illegal 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

Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C. 
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