Pubdate: Wed, 20 Jun 2001
Source: Rock River Times (IL)
Copyright: The Rock River Times 2001
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Hemp)


Dear Editor, M.L. Simon's June 6th column provides an excellent overview of 
the many uses of hemp. The history of hemp's change from cash crop to 
dreaded symbol of the counterculture is quite interesting. Prior to the 
passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and subsequent reefer madness 
campaign, few Americans had heard of marijuana, despite widespread 
cultivation of its non-intoxicating cousin, industrial hemp.

The first marijuana laws were a racist reaction to Mexican laborers taking 
jobs from whites during the early 1900's, passed in large part due to 
newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's sensationalist yellow 
journalism. Incredibly violent acts were allegedly committed by minorities 
under marijuana's influence.

Whites did not even begin smoking pot until a soon-to-be-entrenched 
government bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

These days, marijuana is confused with '60s counterculture. This 
intergenerational culture war does far more harm than marijuana.

Drug dealers do not ID for age, making it easier for teenagers to buy 
illicit drugs than beer. As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana 
provides the black market contacts that introduce youth to hard drugs like 

This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

In Europe, the Netherlands has successfully reduced overall drug use by 
replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation. Dutch rates of drug use 
are significantly lower than U.S. rates in every category.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets and establishing age controls for 
marijuana has proven more effective than zero tolerance. Please feel free 
to edit and publish.

Additional background information:

A dated comparison of Dutch vs. American rates of drug use can be found at:

More recent figures can be found at:

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A., Program Officer

The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation

4455 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite B-500

Washington, DC 20008-2328
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager