Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2001
Source: Tribune Review (PA)
Copyright: 2001 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe
NOTE: The writer is the program officer for The Lindesmith Center-Drug 
Policy Foundation.
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


Regarding the Tribune-Review's April 7 editorial "Attacking 'ecstasy'": 
Ecstasy is the latest illegal drug to be making headlines, but it won't be 
the last until politicians acknowledge the drug war's inherent failure. 
Drug policies modeled after our disastrous experiment with alcohol 
prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug 
dealers do not ID for age, but they do push trendy, profitable "club drugs" 
such as ecstasy, regardless of the dangers posed.

There are cost-effective alternatives to the drug war. 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 have proven more effective than 
zero tolerance.

As the most popular illicit drug in America, marijuana provides the black 
market contacts that introduce users to drugs like heroin. This "gateway" 
is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. It makes no sense to 
waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and 
needlessly expose children to dangerous drugs.

Unfortunately for Americans, our leaders are more prone to 
counterproductive preaching than cost-effective pragmatism.

Robert Sharpe Washington, D.C.
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