Pubdate: Fri, 16 May 2003
Source: Herald News (NJ)
Copyright: 2003 North Jersey Media Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale seems to think waging a global war 
against politically incorrect plants can win the drug war. U.S. military 
intervention in Colombia could very well spread coca production and civil 
war throughout South America. Destroy the Colombian coca crop and 
production will boom in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. Destroy every last plant 
in South America and domestic methamphetamine production will increase to 
meet the demand for cocaine-like drugs.

The self-professed champions of the free market in Congress are seemingly 
incapable of applying basic economic principles to drug policy. The failed 
drug war threatens the integrity of a country founded on the concept of 
limited government. The steady rise in warrantless police searches, 
drug-sniffing dogs in schools and random drug testing have led to a loss of 
civil liberties in America, while failing miserably at preventing drug use. 
Based on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health 
interventions and ineffective as deterrents, a majority of European Union 
countries have decriminalized marijuana. Despite marijuana prohibition and 
perhaps because of forbidden fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is 
higher in the United States than any European country.

The United States now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, in 
large part due to the war on some drugs. At an average cost of $25,071 per 
inmate annually, maintaining the world's largest prison system can hardly 
be considered fiscally conservative. It's not possible to wage a moralistic 
war against consensual vices unless privacy is completely eliminated, along 
with the Constitution. America can either be a free country or a 
"drug-free" country, but not both.

Robert Sharpe, program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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