The Baltimore Sun

Costly drug war only fuels crime

Drug policies modeled after alcohol prohibition have given rise to a youth-oriented black market for drugs ("Legalizing drugs: The money argument," Dec. 2).

Illegal drug dealers don't ID young drug purchasers for age, but they do recruit minors immune to adult sentences into the drug trade.

Throwing more money into the war on drugs is no solution.

Attempts to limit the supply of illegal drugs while demand remains constant only increase the profitability of drug trafficking. And in the case of addictive drugs like heroin, a spike in street prices leads desperate addicts to increase their 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, would be a cost-effective alternative to never-ending drug war.

As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, its consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like heroin.

The fact that marijuana thus serves as a "gateway" to other drugs is the direct result of marijuana prohibition.

And given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol - the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death - it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that help 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

The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy.

Religious voters will stand by values

Our liberal president-elect has yet to take office and already it seems to be open season on conservative Christians for anyone who wants to take a shot ("Religious right brings on the 'oogedy-boogedy' blues," Commentary, Dec. 5).

Republicans lost this election because they could not get behind their lackluster candidate, not because religious folks aren't willing to exchange their beliefs for "progressive values."

Kathleen Parker suggests that reason and not faith guide our political choices. But only a godless liberal would accept practices such as crushing an infant's skull as a legitimate form of birth control.

No thanks, Ms. Parker; win or lose, we'll stand by our faith.

Corinne Will, Pasadena

Religious extremism proves very destructive

The attacks in Mumbai, India show that misdirected religion can easily become a destructive force ("U.S. presses for urgency, resolve," Dec. 4).

Efforts are being made to tie responsibility for the attacks to another country. But these religious terrorists owe their allegiance not to any homeland but to a misguided version of faith.

They roam from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Palestine to Somalia feeding off nationalist issues and causing harm to the local populations, while serving only the purposes of their religious extremism.

Jim Martin, Middle River

Rwanda still stains Bill Clinton's record

In his paean to former President Bill Clinton John Gartner was effusive in his praise for Mr. Clinton the peacemaker ("What should we do with Bill?" Commentary, Dec. 3).

He explained that not only is Mr. Clinton loved all around the world, but that he was a "ubiquitous force for peace" as evidenced by his instrumental role in reducing tensions between Greece and Turkey, averting nuclear war between India and Pakistan, bringing peace to Northern Ireland, and on and on.

Golly, is it any wonder he had no time left over for the poor, benighted country of Rwanda?

Surely if someone would have brought to his attention the worst genocide since World War II as it was taking place there, Mr. Clinton would have once more worked his magic.

And, just as surely, on the global scales of justice, the souls of the million slaughtered victims of that ethnic butchery far outweigh the encomiums heaped by his worshipers on the "most popular person in the world."

But tragically, President Peacemaker will be remembered - at least by those of us who abhor historical revisionism - for his thunderous silence and studied inaction while that tragic country hemorrhaged its future.

George Deller, Bel Air

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