Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2001
Source: Texas Observer (TX)
Copyright: 2001 The Texas Observer
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Karen Olsson's excellent article ("Every Man a Kingpin," May 11)' 
on the dangers posed by both exploding meth labs and drug laws, unregulated 
drug labs are akin to the deadly exploding liqueur stills that sprung up 
everywhere during alcohol prohibition. Shameless politicians routinely used 
the drug war's negative consequences to justify its continuation. The 
crime, corruption, and overdose deaths attributed to drugs are all direct 
results of drug prohibition. With prohibition repealed, alcohol producers 
no longer gun each other down in drive-by shootings, nor do consumers go 
blind drinking unregulated bathtub gin. It's time to stop wasting the 
taxpayer's money on drug policies that do more harm than good.

There are cost-effective alternatives. Taxing and regulating marijuana 
would effectively undermine the black market. Illegal marijuana provides 
the black market contacts that introduce users to drugs like meth. This 
"gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

In Europe, the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by 
replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation. Dutch rates of drug use 
are significantly lower than U.S. rates in every category. Separating the 
hard and soft drug markets and establishing age controls for marijuana has 
proven more effective than zero tolerance for drugs.

Robert Sharpe
Program Officer
The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy FOundation
Washington, DC
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