Pubdate: Tue, 16 May 2000
Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (TX)
Copyright: 2000 The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Author:  Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
George Washington University, Washington, D. C.


Re: Wave of "Nazi" drug labs places Lubbock in dangerous
company (A-J, 5-1).

If marijuana had been legalized in the 1970s there would be no "Nazi"
drug labs in Texas. The crack epidemic of the '80s would never have

As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana provides the black market
connections that introduce drug users to harder drugs like
methamphetamine. Current drug policy is, in effect, a gateway drug
policy. While there is nothing inherent in the marijuana plant that
compels users to try harder drugs, its black market status puts users
in contact with unscrupulous individuals who push hard drugs.

Equally disturbing is the manner in which children have an easier time
purchasing marijuana than beer. While a liquor store will refuse to
sell alcohol to a minor to avoid losing its license, a drug dealer
will sell to anyone with cash. As long as marijuana remains illegal,
the established criminal distribution network will ensure that
America's children can sample every new poison concocted by drug pushers.

Given that marijuana is increasingly recognized as being safer than
alcohol or tobacco, why not end marijuana prohibition? The answer, of
course, is culture. The marijuana leaf represents the counterculture
to those Americans who would like to turn the clock back to the 1950s.
This misguided culture war has gone on long enough.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, legalizing marijuana would both
limit access and separate the hard and soft drug markets which serve
to introduce youth to the truly deadly drugs.

ROBERT SHARPE, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, George Washington
University, Washington, D.C. Via e-mail
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