Pubdate: Fri, 27 Jul 2007
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2007 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Donald J. Boudreaux's column explaining how it was rapidly
falling federal income-tax revenues during the Depression that led to
the repeal of alcohol prohibition ("Prohibition politics," July 25 and, drug prohibition may suffer a similar fate. The drug war
has given the land of the free the highest incarceration rate in the
world. This is big government at its worst. Sooner or later, Congress
is going to have to wake up to the fact that the punitive Nanny State
is simply not sustainable.

The actual impact of punishment on rates of use is negligible. Based
on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health
interventions, a majority of European Union countries have
decriminalized marijuana. Despite harsh penalties and perhaps because
of a "forbidden-fruit" appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in
the U.S. than in any European country.

Taxing and regulating marijuana is a cost-effective alternative to the
never-ending drug war. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled
by organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with
addictive drugs like heroin. Given that marijuana is arguably safer
than legal alcohol, it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed
marijuana policies that finance organized crime and facilitate hard
drug use.

Robert Sharpe,

Washington, D.C.

The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy.
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