Pubdate: Mon, 09 Aug 2004
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2004 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Dave Peyton's thoughtful July 29 column, international drug 
cartels are the prime beneficiaries of West Virginia's marijuana 
eradication efforts. As long as there is demand for marijuana, there will 
be a supply. Eliminating a local cottage industry -- to have it replaced by 
organized crime groups that also sell cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine 
- -- is not necessarily a good thing.

There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting 
children from drugs.

Decriminalization acknowledges the reality of marijuana use and frees users 
from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. 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 sellers of hard drugs.

This is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

It makes no sense to waste limited law enforcement resources on 
counterproductive policies that finance organized crime and facilitate the 
use of hard drugs.

Robert Sharpe

Washington, D.C.

Sharpe is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy. 
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