The Drug War Itself Is the Problem

RECEIVED Tue., March 2, 2004

Dear Editor,
   Kudos to Jordan Smith for an excellent Feb. 27 column ["Fascism Rides the D.C. Metro," News]. Congress isn't doing the American people any favors by denying drug policy reformers the right to free speech. The drug war is a cure that is worse than the disease. The steady rise in the use of warrantless police searches, drug-sniffing dogs, and random drug testing has led to a loss of civil liberties in America, while failing miserably at preventing drug use.
   Based on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents, a majority of European Union countries have decriminalized marijuana. Despite marijuana prohibition and perhaps because of forbidden-fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country.
   The drug war threatens the integrity of a country founded on the concept of limited government. The U.S. now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, in large part due to the war on some drugs. It's not possible to wage a moralistic war against consensual vices unless privacy is completely eliminated, along with the Constitution. America can either be a free country or a "drug-free" country, but not both.
   The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug use can be found at: www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/espad_pr.pdf.
   Monitoring the Future is funded with U.S. government grants.
Sincerely,
Robert Sharpe, MPA
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.
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