Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jun 2008
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2008 Statesman Journal
Author: Robert Sharpe


Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in 
need, but adult recreational use should be regulated. 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 
increases the profitability of drug trafficking. For addictive drugs 
like heroin, 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 hard drugs like 
methamphetamine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a 
fundamentally flawed policy.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than 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 hard drug use. 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, policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug 
Policy, Arlington, Va
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom