Pubdate: Fri, 10 Aug 2001
Source: Rock River Times (IL)
Copyright: The Rock River Times 2001
Author: Robert Sharpe M.P.A.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Dear Editor:

Thank you for publishing the M.L. Simon's informative July 25th 
column on medical marijuana. The marijuana plant has been used 
medicinally for thousands of years. In 1999, the federally 
commissioned Institute of Medicine report concluded that there are 
limited circumstances in which smoking marijuana for medical uses is 
recommended.  Marijuana is one of the most studied plants around. 
Nonetheless, entrenched interests riding the drug war gravy train 
continue to claim that further research is needed.

Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in 
need, but adult recreational use should be regulated as well. The 
reason for this is simple: Leaving the distribution of popular 
recreational drugs in the hands of organized crime puts children at 
great risk. Unlike legitimate businesses  that sell liquor, illegal 
drug dealers do not check IDs for age, but they do push profitable, 
addictive drugs like meth when given the chance. Sensible regulation 
is desperately needed to undermine the thriving black market. 
Marijuana is the most popular illicit drug. Compared to legal alcohol 
and tobacco, marijuana is relatively harmless. Alcohol poisoning 
kills thousands annually.

Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs available. Marijuana, on 
the other hand, has never been shown to cause an overdose death and 
is not physically addictive. Pot may be relatively benign but 
marijuana prohibition is deadly. Although there is nothing in 
marijuana that compels users to try harder drugs, its black market 
status puts youth in contact with criminals who push them.

Current drug policy is a gateway policy. As counter intuitive as it 
may seem, replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation would do a 
better job protecting children from drugs than the failed drug war.

Robert Sharpe M.P.A. Program Officer, The Lindesmith Center - Drug 
Policy Foundation Washington D.C.
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