Pubdate: Fri, 03 Dec 2004
Source: Kingsport Times-News (TN)
Copyright: 2004 Kingsport Publishing Corporation
Author: Robert Sharpe, policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy


Re. your editorial "Meth Labs a Growing Problem..." Tennessee'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 drugs while demand remains constant only increase the
profitability of drug 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 and
arguably Tennessee's number one cash crop, is a cost-effective
alternative to 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

Arlington, Va.

Editor's note: Mr. Sharpe is policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug
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