Pubdate: Sat, 01 Apr 2000
Date: 04/01/2000
Source: Massachusetts News (MA)
Author: Robert Sharpe

Jeffrey Miron did an excellent job refuting the junk science-based
reefer madness put forth by George Biernson. Nonetheless, it is not
the relative harmlessness of marijuana that compels many activists to
advocate legalization, but rather the effects of existing drug laws.
Here in America children have an easier time buying marijuana than
beer. While a liquor store will refuse to sell alcohol to a minor to
avoid losing its license, a drug dealer will sell to anyone.

More disturbing is the manner in which marijuana users come into
contact with pushers of harder drugs.

The black market status of marijuana puts its distribution in the
hands of organized crime. Marijuana is not a gateway drug, but
marijuana prohibition is definitely a gateway drug policy. Not only do
current drug laws facilitate the introduction of hard drugs to youth,
but they also enrich organized crime, which in turn fuels violence and
corruption. America's experience with alcohol prohibition confirms
that legalization will not only eliminate drug law related violence,
but also make it significantly harder for children to purchase drugs.

Finally, we have the effects of drug laws on the individual. A heavy
marijuana smoker may risk bronchitis, but the health effects of
bronchitis are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of
prison stays and criminal records.

The government does not actively try and destroy the lives of
alcoholics. I fail to see why marijuana smokers should be singled out
for punishment.

Robert Sharpe,
Students For A Sensible Drug Policy,
George Washington University