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Get tough on drugs

Robert Sharpe

This is in reference to the Saturday, June 8, Summit Daily News story about the juvenile who was arrested for allegedly possessing amphetamines. Gov. Bill Owens’ tough-on-drugs response to the methamphetamine epidemic is a very real threat to public safety. Colorado’s hazardous methamphetamine labs are reminiscent of the deadly exploding liquor stills that sprung 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 illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. In terms of 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, is a cost-effective alternative to never-ending drug war. There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. Marijuana may be relatively harmless compared to alcohol – pot has never been shown to cause an overdose death – but marijuana prohibition is deadly. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like meth. Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children themselves are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C .


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