Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jan 1997
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Author: Greg Goldmakher

Prohibition fails Frank Rich's column ("Double Standards - Alcohol erodes
foundation for war on drugs," Viewpoints, Jan. 14) is like a breath of
fresh air in an atmosphere of choking hypocrisy. At long last, someone has
recognized that Prohibition, both of alcohol and of other drugs, is a
strategy doomed to fail.

At the end of the column, Mr. Rich suggests that if we were to legalize
and regulate marijuana, it would actually be harder for kids to get it
than it is now. This is absolutely correct.

When I was in high school, about a decade ago, I knew exactly where to
go if I had wanted to get pot. I could not, however, get alcohol, since
Massachusetts (where I lived at the time) had a very strict enforcement
of the drinking age. Illegal drug dealers have no incentive to ask
customers for ID, but legitimate store owners do, for fear of losing
their business.

It seems stupid for us to expend law enforcement resources on this drug.
If the police and courts did not waste time and effort busting marijuana
users and dealers, they would be able to devote their energy to much
more serious crimes, such as robbery, rape and murder.

In the Netherlands, where marijuana has been decriminalized and is easy
to obtain, the rate of heavy marijuana use by teens is much lower than
in the United States, the rate of hard drug use is also much lower, and
the rate of violent crime is lower as well.