Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2001
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2001 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Sharpe is program officer of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy 
Foundation in Washington, D.C.


Mike J. Plylar's excellent April 24 letter, "Drugs tests may be profitable, 
but they are fallible," exposed the excessive power and influence of the 
drug war gravy train. Greed and fallibility are not the only problems 
related to drug testing.

Drug tests encourage the use of synthetic drugs like OxyContin. Marijuana 
is the only drug that stays in the body long enough to make urinalysis a 
deterrent. Marijuana's organic metabolites are fat-soluble and can linger 
for weeks.

Harder drugs are water-soluble and exit the human body within 48 hours.

Drug users know this. Anyone on the Internet can find out how to thwart a 
drug test. A person who takes OxyContin on Friday night will likely test 
clean on Monday.

Ironically, the least dangerous recreational drug (marijuana) is the only 
drug used that is discouraged by testing. Alcohol, incidentally, kills more 
Americans every year than all illegal drugs combined.

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, 
marijuana, a relatively harmless drug that has never been shown to cause an 
overdose death, would be legal.

Taxing and regulating West Virginia's Number One cash crop would separate 
the hard and soft drug markets and eliminate the "gateway" to drugs like 
cocaine. Establishing strict age controls is critical.

Right now kids have an easier time buying pot than beer. Drug policy reform 
may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children 
themselves are more important than the message.

Opportunistic drug war profiteers would no doubt disagree.

Robert Sharpe

Washington, D.C.
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