Methamphetamine is the latest dangerous drug to be making headlines, but it won't be the last until policymakers acknowledge the drug war's inherent failure.
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.
Taxing and regulating marijuana, the most popular illicit drug, is a cost-effective alternative to the $50 billion drug war.
There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records.
What's really needed is a regulated market with enforceable age controls.
At present, kids have an easier time buying pot than beer. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. Marijuana may be relatively harmless compared to alcohol the plant 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.
(Annual Causes of Death in the U.S.: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/causes.htm)
Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.
Drug Policy Alliance