Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jun 2000
Date: 06/27/2000
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Author: Robert Sharpe
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Editor, Times-Dispatch:

James Q. Wilson's June 18 Commentary article, "Drug Legalization Has
Its Pitfalls," discusses the pitfalls of drug legalization but fails
to consider anything other than total, all-out legalization. This is
misleading. I don't think anyone in the drug-policy reform movement
wants to see advertisements calling upon TV viewers to run down to the
convenience store to buy crack.

There is a middle ground between all-out legalization and drug
prohibition. By registering hard-drug addicts and providing
standardized doses in a treatment setting, we could eliminate the
public health problems associated with addiction. For example, the
high prevalence of HIV among intravenous drug users is a direct result
of zero-tolerance drug policies that prohibit the sale of needles.

More important, organized crime would lose a lucrative client base.
This would render illegal drug trafficking unprofitable, destroy the
black market, and thereby spare future generations the horror of addiction.

As for marijuana, the plant should be legalized for

First of all, minors have an easier time purchasing pot than beer.
Drug dealers don't ID for age. Second, the risk

factor cited by Wilson actually increases the appeal of marijuana
among rebellious adolescents.

Finally, marijuana currently provides the black-market connections
that introduce youth to harder drugs.

As counterintuitive as it may seem, legalizing marijuana would both
limit access and close the gateway to harder drugs.

Robert Sharpe,
Washington, D.C.