Pubdate: Mon, 11 Dec 2000
Date: 12/11/2000
Source: Business Week (US)
Author: Robert Sharpe

If U.S. drug warriors succeed in their Sisyphean task of eradicating
the supply of coca in South America, domestic methamphetamine
production will boom to meet the demand (''The war on coca: How far
will the U.S. go?'' International Business, Nov. 20). Thanks to
successes at eradicating marijuana overseas, a resulting increase in
domestic cultivation has made marijuana America's No. 1 cash crop.  As
long as there is a demand, there will be a supply.

Destabilizing entire countries will not make America drug-free, but
sensible regulation could feasibly undermine the volatile black
market. As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana provides the
contacts that introduce Americans to harder drugs. This ''gateway'' is
a direct result of marijuana's illegal status, not the plant itself.
Illegal drug dealers do not I.D. for age, but they do push more
profitable, addictive drugs such as cocaine or heroin when given the

Regulation is desperately needed to restrict access to drugs. As
counterintuitive as it may seem, replacing marijuana prohibition with
regulation would ultimately do a better job protecting children from
drugs than funding civil war in Colombia.

Robert Sharpe,
Lindesmith Center,
Drug Policy Foundation Washington