Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2002
Source: Times Daily (Florence, AL)
Copyright: 2002 Times Daily
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the Editor:

According to an Aug. 17th article, marijuana eradication efforts covering 
Colbert, Franklin and Lauderdale counties netted 1,000 plants.

There is a reason some local residents have turned to illicit marijuana 
cultivation to make ends meet. The drug war's distortion of immutable laws 
of supply and demand make an easily grown weed literally worth its weight 
in gold.

Eradication efforts are tantamount to a taxpayer-funded price supports for 
organized crime. Eliminating a local cottage industry only to have it 
replaced by international drug cartels that also sell cocaine, heroin and 
methamphetamine is not necessarily a good thing.

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 

What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls. Separating 
the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as marijuana 
distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will 
continue to come into contact with addictive drugs like methamphetamine. 
Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant has 
never been shown to cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense to waste 
tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and facilitate 
the use of hard drugs.

Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to 
think the children themselves are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe
Drug Policy Alliance
Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart