Newshawk: Tips for Getting LTEs Published http://www.mapinc.org/resource/tips.htm Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle (MT) Copyright: 2002 The Bozeman Daily Chronicle Contact: http://news.mywebpal.com/index.cfm?pnpid=311 Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1686 Author: Robert Sharpe THE DRUG WAR DOESN'T FIGHT CRIME; IT FUELS CRIME The work of the Missouri River Drug Task Force (Chronicle Page 1, Jan. 21) is no doubt well-intended, but ultimately counterproductive. Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increases the profitability of drug trafficking. In terms of addictive drugs like meth, a rise in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight crime, it fuels crime. Montana's hazardous methamphetamine labs are reminiscent of the deadly exploding liquor stills that sprung up throughout the nation during alcohol prohibition. Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market. Illegal drug dealers don't ID for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences. So much for protecting the children. Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a cost-effective alternative to the $50 billion drug war. There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with enforceable age controls. Right now kids have an easier time buying pot than beer. More disturbing is the manner in which marijuana's black market status exposes users to sellers of hard drugs. Marijuana may be relatively harmless compared to legal alcohol -- the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death -- but marijuana prohibition is deadly. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like meth. Robert Sharpe, M.P.A. program officer The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation 4455 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite B-500 Washington, D.C.