Pubdate: Tue, 16 Oct 2001
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2001 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


In their Oct. 12 Op-Ed column, "Don't forfeit war on drugs," Sens. 
Charles Grassley and Jon Kyl defend controversial Office of National 
Drug Control Policy nominee John Walters by stating, "He opposes 
efforts to legalize drugs, under whatever false flag they fly. That 
makes legalization advocates unhappy." Organized crime, however, no 
doubt is thrilled with the prospect of Mr. Walters as drug czar. 
Tough drug laws are tantamount to price supports for organized crime. 
Thanks to the drug war's distortion of basic supply-and-demand 
dynamics, an easily grown weed such as marijuana is literally worth 
its weight in gold. If it were legal, growing marijuana would be less 
profitable than growing tomatoes. I, for one, do not approve of my 
tax dollars subsidizing mobsters.

Soft drugs like pot should be legal. The tax windfall would be 
tremendous. Regulating the sale of marijuana would allow for 
enforceable age controls and the separation of hard- and soft-drug 
markets. As long as pot remains illegal, consumers will continue to 
come into contact with pushers of harder drugs. Again, organized 
crime is thrilled with the gateway policy currently in place. Now 
that we have an all too real enemy in the form of international 
terrorism, the $50 billion war on consensual vices is a luxury this 
country cannot afford. Messrs. Grassley's and Kyl's willingness to 
use the full weight of the criminal-justice system to prevent people 
from making unhealthy choices has dangerous implications. Diet is the 
No. 1 determinant of health outcomes. Fat people beware.

Robert Sharpe
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