Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2001
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor; headline by newshawk

RE: THE increase in methamphetamine use among Edmonton youth. Meth is the 
latest drug to make headlines, but it won't be the last. Drug policies 
designed to protect children have given rise to a youth-oriented black market.

Illegal drug dealers don't ID for age, but they do push addictive drugs 
like meth. The drug war fails miserably at its primary mandate, protecting 
children from drugs.

There are cost-effective alternatives.  In Europe the Netherlands has 
successfully reduced overall drug use by replacing marijuana prohibition 
with regulation. Separating the hard and soft drug markets and establishing 
age controls for marijuana has proven more effective than zero tolerance.

Compared to toxic alcohol, marijuana is relatively harmless. The plant has 
never been shown to cause an overdose death. Marijuana prohibition, 
however, is deadly. As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana provides 
the black market contacts that introduce users to hard drugs.  This gateway 
is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

Canadian tax dollars are being wasted on failed policies that encourage 
organized crime to needlessly expose children to dangerous drugs. Drug 
policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think 
children are more important than the message. Opportunistic "tough on 
drugs" politicians would, no doubt, disagree.

Robert Sharpe

(Any substance abuse is bad, which means the current drug laws will likely 
be re-examined someday.)
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