Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jun 2001
Source: Greensboro News & Record (NC)
Copyright: 2001 Greensboro News & Record, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the story "FBI offers reward for missing pot" (June 13): I'm not 
surprised to read that 5,000 pounds of marijuana are missing from the 
Chatham County sheriff's office.

Thanks to the drug war's distortion of basic supply and demand dynamics, an 
easily grown weed is literally worth its weight in gold in urban centers.

Whether or not Chatham law officers were involved remains to be seen. 
Nonetheless, with money practically growing on trees, financial incentives 
to corrupt law enforcement most definitely exist.

The drug war engenders institutional corruption at levels unseen since 
alcohol prohibition in the early 1900s. The corruption, crime and overdose 
deaths attributed to drugs are all direct results of drug prohibition.

Taxing and regulating marijuana is a cost effective alternative to spending 
billions annually on a failed drug war. Unlike alcohol, which kills 
thousands annually, pot has never been shown to cause an overdose death.

Although marijuana may be relatively harmless, marijuana prohibition is deadly.

Illegal marijuana provides the black market contacts that introduce youth 
to addictive drugs like meth. Current drug policy is a gateway 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 proved more effective than zero tolerance.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., Washington The writer is program officer, The 
Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation,
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager