Pubdate: Fri, 06 Sep 2002
Source: Brewton Standard, The (AL)
Copyright: 2002 Brewton Standard
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


To the editor:

In his Aug. 22nd column, Robert Blankenship describes the very real dangers 
posed by Escambia County's volatile methamphetamine labs. Hazardous meth 
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.

There are cost-effective alternatives to the never-ending drug war. In 
Europe, the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by 
replacing marijuana prohibition with adult 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 
has proven more effective than zero tolerance.

Here in the U.S. marijuana provides the black market contacts that 
introduce addictive drugs like meth. This "gateway" is the direct result of 
a fundamentally flawed policy. 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 
are more important than the message.

A dated comparison of Dutch vs. American rates of drug use can be found at: and more recent figures can be 
found at:


Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager