Pubdate: Sat, 01 Apr 2000
Source: Massachusetts News (MA)
Copyright: 2000 Massachusetts News, Inc.
Contact:   One Cameron St., Wellesley, MA 02482
Author: Robert Sharpe and Neal Smith


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

Editor's Comment: Many people in Boston are disturbed that the Libertarian
Party participates in the marijuana rally that is held on the Boston Common
every year and encourages the use of the drug by teenagers.

They wonder whether the Libertarians 1) merely advocate the freedom of
adults to use any drug they choose or 2) whether they are also saying that
marijuana is harmless. So we commissioned this debate.

The answer turns out to be that the Libertarians do not believe that
marijuana is much of a problem.

We asked Prof. Miron to write an article for us that appeared in the
February issue. He basically said that marijuana is minimally dangerous.

Therefore, we have apparently reached the conclusion that the Libertarian
participation at the marijuana rally is not just for the freedom to use any
drug, but also to dispel any belief that marijuana is dangerous. We have
received many letters from all over the world on this subject.

We cannot print them all so we will limit this to two of them. We had hoped
to limit the discussion to the marijuana issue which has disturbed so many,
but many letters have mixed the two issues of freedom and marijuana into one
as this did. The letter from the next reader is more about the issue of
marijuana. We have offered Prof. Miron the opportunity to respond on the
issue of marijuana.

Studies Compared to Gutter Science

I take note that the detractors from Professor Miron's refutation of George
Biernson's statements regarding the harmfulness of marijuana quote U.S.
government conducted or funded studies.

Many of these studies, it has been repeatedly proven, fall into the category
of "gutter science." For several decades the federal government has lied
about marijuana. Trusting the statements of Donna Shalala or Barry McAfferey
is demonstrably wrong. I also note that the government, which has a vested
interest in keeping marijuana illegal, likes to ignore studies commissioned
by the government that do not support their silly ideas.

The Shaffer Commission Report, commissioned in 1972 and the more recent
Institute of Medicine report that handily shot down the "Gateway Theory"
come most readily to mind. Marijuana, essentially made illegal in 1937, was
the scapegoat in which petrochemical businesses, their financial backers and
out-of-work alcohol "prohibition" bureaucrats used to keep the industrial
uses of hemp out of the marketplace. Now that we face another potential fuel
crisis, the government has to hustle to keep up their facade.

With the help of Ms. Lea Palleria Cox, M.A.T. President, Concerned Citizens
for Drug Prevention, Inc., Massachusetts Delegate, Drug Watch International
and others of her ilk, the government can continue to muddy the waters of

The truth is that no substance, including marijuana, is harm-free. However,
as so aptly stated by DEA Administrative Judge Francis Young, marijuana is
safer than many of the foods we commonly consume. Further, the truth is that
government has no ethics nor morals and has no problem with lying to support
their position.

Those who ally themselves with government's position on drugs and marijuana
lower themselves to government's level. I caution you and your readers: If
it's from the government about marijuana, don't believe it!

- - Neal Smith,  Indianapolis, IN
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