Pubdate: Thu, 07 Sep 2000
Source: Guardian Weekly, The (UK)
Copyright: Guardian Publications 2000
Contact:  75 Farringdon Road London U.K EC1M 3HQ
Fax: 44-171-242-0985
Author: Jenny Tongue, and Robert Sharpe


Perhaps if President Clinton dared to stay a little longer in Colombia he
might finally realise that his country's attempts to combat the drugs trade
have not and will not work (Clinton takes cover from drug war flak, August

For decades now the United States has continued to try to wipe out the
supply of drugs by fumigating swaths of Colombia with glyphosates and
possibly now the lethal fungus Fusarium oxysporum . What has happened? Coca
production has continued to increase each year (20% last year), ballooning

Instead of involving himself in a civil war that he cannot win, and instead
of committing Colombians to even more misery, Mr Clinton should concentrate
on looking at reducing demand for drugs in his own country.

Better still, he - and indeed all the international community -  should
seriously rethink the whole approach to drugs based on the experience with
tobacco and alcohol.

Imagine the possibilities of reforming the illegal drug trade and tapping in
to an estimated $525bn (equal in value to the oil and arms industries). We
could reduce crime and corruption in all countries, reconstruct producer
countries that have been so devastated, and treat the addicts in our own
countries. When can we have a proper debate on drugs use and production?

(Dr) Jenny Tongue MP

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The drug war fuels crime while failing miserably at protecting children from
drugs. Because dealers don't ID for age, children have an easier time buying
cannabis than beer. The single most effective means of destroying the
international drug trade is the legalisation of cannabis 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 cannabis 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.

The Netherlands closed this gateway by separating the hard and soft drug
markets. Yet the US Drug Enforcement Administration has a long history of
criticising the Netherlands, even though it has substantially lower rates of
drug use than the US. It is obvious that the DEA is far more concerned with
maintaining job security than minimising drug abuse.

Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy,
George Washington University, Washington DC, USA
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