Pubdate: Tue, 24 Aug 2004
Source: Muskogee Daily Phoenix (OK)
Copyright: C2004 Muskogee Daily Phoenix
Author:Robert Sharpe


Oklahoma's hazardous methamphetamine labs are reminiscent of the
deadly exploding liquor stills that sprang 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.

Throwing more money at the problem is no solution. Attempts to limit
the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only
increase the profitability of trafficking. For addictive drugs like
meth, a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase
criminal activity to feed desperate habits. The drug war doesn't fight
crime, it fuels crime.

Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a
cost-effective alternative to the never-ending drug war. As long as
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard
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.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Arlington, Va
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