Pubdate: Tue, 15 Feb 2000
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2000 Chicago Tribune Company
Contact:  435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611-4066
Author: Robert Sharpe


WASHINGTON -- In his Feb. 9 letter, "Drug problems," Michael Corcoran
contends that the alleged positive outcomes that would arise from ending
drug prohibition are the result of half-baked idealism. He then calls upon
readers to help work toward a drug-free America. Given that we've been
waging the drug war for decades and have wasted billions of tax dollars in
the process, I think it is clear that the goal of a drug-free America is
simply not possible.

As for the damage caused by drugs, I agree with Mr. Corcoran, but I would
like to point out that illegal drugs are currently easier for children to
purchase than legal drugs. According to the Center on Addiction and
Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teenagers find marijuana easier to
obtain than beer. So much for protecting the children. Not only does an
unregulated market make it easier for minors to purchase drugs, but society
also has to suffer the consequences of increased violence and corruption.

Our experiment with alcohol prohibition and the manner in which it fueled
organized crime is proof that drug laws are often more dangerous than drugs

Our current drug policy is not only a failure, but it is a counterproductive
gateway drug policy because of the manner in which it exposes users of
relatively benign marijuana to deadly drugs like crack or heroin.

Robert Sharpe
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