Pubdate: Mon, 8 Dec 2008
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2008 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a
youth-oriented black market for drugs ("Legalizing drugs: The money
argument," Dec. 2).

Illegal drug dealers don't ID young drug purchasers for age, but they
do recruit minors immune to adult sentences into the drug trade.

Throwing more money into the war on drugs is no solution.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains
constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. And in
the case of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices
leads desperate addicts to increase their 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, would be a
cost-effective alternative to never-ending drug war.

As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized
crime, its consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers
of hard drugs like heroin.

The fact that marijuana thus serves as a "gateway" to other drugs is
the direct result of marijuana prohibition.

And 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 help 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, Washington

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