Pubdate: Thu, 13 Mar 2003
Source: Post and Courier, The (Charleston, SC)
Copyright: 2003 Evening Post Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


According to a March 1 editorial, the three U.S. technicians kidnapped
in Colombia "were presumably under contract to the U.S. government to
monitor drug trafficking." If South America's rainforests are to
survive, the self-professed champions of the free market in Congress
had better learn to apply basic economic principles to drug policy.

In an effort to eradicate illicit coca plants in rebel-held areas,
toxic herbicides are sprayed from above, hitting water supplies,
staple crops and people. The aerial eradication campaign drives
peasants further into the Amazon basin, which in turn leads to more
rainforest destruction. Cut off the flow of cocaine, and domestic
methamphetamine production will boom to meet the demand for
cocaine-like drugs. Thanks to past successes at eradicating marijuana
in Latin America, the corresponding increase in domestic cultivation
has made marijuana America's No. 1 cash crop.

Eradicating plants abroad and building prisons at home is not going to
make the U.S. "drug-free." For the same reasons alcohol prohibition
failed, the drug war has been doomed from the start. Instead of
wasting scarce resources waging a punitive drug war, we should be
funding cost-effective drug treatment.


Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

925 15th Street, NW
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