Pubdate: Fri, 18 Apr 2008
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2008 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding "Over-the-counter attack on meth" (April 13): Missouri'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. Drug dealers don't 
ID for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences. So 
much for protecting the children.

Throwing money at the problem is no solution. Limiting the supply of 
illegal drugs while demand remains constant increases the 
profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs such as 
methamphetamine, 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, including meth. This "gateway" is the direct result of a 
fundamentally flawed policy.

Given that marijuana arguably is safer than legal alcohol -- it never 
has been shown to cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense to 
waste money 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 | Washington, D.C.

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom