Pubdate: Sat, 16 Nov 2002
Source: Free Lance-Star, The (VA)
Copyright: 2002 The Free Lance-Star
Author: Robert Sharpe


Ecstasy is the latest illegal drug to be making headlines, but it won't be 
the last until politicians acknowledge the drug war's inherent failure 
["'Ecstasy' gives a new generation the highs--and lows--of the '60s," Nov. 4].

Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a 
youth-oriented black market. The Ecstasy variant known as "PMA" that has 
been taking the lives of youth across the nation is today's version of 
Prohibition-era bathtub gin.

While European nations have largely abandoned the drug war in favor of 
public-health alternatives, our so-called leaders are intent on maximizing 
the harm associated with illicit drug use.

The RAVE Act currently making its way through Congress targets dance clubs, 
even though they may provide life-saving, harm-reduction education, pill 
testing, and water (designed to prevent Ecstasy-related heatstroke, a 
potentially life-threatening concern).

Sacrificing more children at the altar of the failed drug war is not in 
America's best interest. In addition to pushing legislation that will lead 
to easily preventable deaths, our government is spending millions on a 
misleading anti-Ecstasy campaign.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America's sensationalist anti-Ecstasy ads 
show apparent indifference among Ecstasy users when fellow "ravers" fall 
unconscious. These ads have zero credibility. Whether they use drugs or 
not, teenagers know Ecstasy produces strong feelings of empathy.

The likely result of the ad campaign is teenagers continuing to ignore 
anti-drug warnings and parents continuing to support harmful laws. 
Apparently, keeping the $50 billion drug-war gravy train chugging along is 
more important than protecting children from drugs.

Robert Sharpe


Robert Sharpe is program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance.
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