Pubdate: Sun, 03 Sep 2000
Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)
Copyright: 2000, The Tribune Co.
Section: Commentary
Page: 3
Author: Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C.
Note: The writer is with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.


Regarding "Freighters ran coke for cartel" (Nation/World, Aug. 27):

It's heartening to hear U.S. Customs Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly 
acknowledge that we're never going to seize or arrest our way out of the 
drug problem. Perhaps drug warriors are finally getting wise to the 
futility of their efforts. Rather than waste resources attempting to 
overcome immutable laws of supply and demand, policy makers should look to 
the lessons learned from America's disastrous experiment with alcohol 
Prohibition in the early 1900s.

When the supply of addictive drugs such as cocaine is limited while demand 
remains constant, drug trafficking becomes more profitable. Granted, bad 
people were arrested as a result of the recent busts, but with drug dealing 
made more lucrative, someone will inevitably step in to reap the profits. 
In the short term, drug prices are higher, which means desperate addicts 
increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war 
effectively fuels crime, while tailing miserably at protecting children 
from drugs.

Because drug dealers don't IDs for age, children have an easier time buying 
marijuana than beer. The most effective means of destroying the 
international drug trade is the legalization of marijuana for adults. To 
maintain criminal sanctions for a plant that is arguably safer than alcohol 
puts children at risk. While there is nothing inherent in marijuana that 
compels users to try harder drugs, its black-market status puts users in 
contact with criminals who push them.

Current drug policy is effectively a gateway policy. Regulation is 
desperately needed to undermine the volatile black market and restrict 
access to drugs.

The writer is with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart