Pubdate: Fri, 10 Aug 2001
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Ottawa Citizen
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: Don't legalize marijuana, police tell health minister, Aug. 4.

In response to Health Minister Allan Rock's "open mind" on marijuana 
decriminalization, RCMP Chief Supt. Robert Lesser has gone on record saying 
that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police's drug abuse committee 
does not support decriminalization. Of course it doesn't. Marijuana law 
reform would derail the entire drug war gravy train.

There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting 
children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of 
marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal 
records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.

The lucrative black market has no age controls, making it easier for kids 
to buy marijuana than beer. Although marijuana is relatively harmless 
compared to most legal drugs -- the plant has never been shown to cause an 
overdose death -- marijuana prohibition is deadly. Illegal marijuana 
provides the black market contacts that introduce youth to addictive drugs 
like heroin. Current drug policy is a gateway policy.

Like alcohol prohibition once did in the U.S. in the early 1900s, marijuana 
prohibition effectively subsidizes organized crime, while failing miserably 
at preventing use. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, replacing marijuana 
prohibition with re-gulation would do a better job of protecting children 
than the never-ending drug war.

Robert Sharpe,

Washington, D.C.

Lindesmith Center Drug Policy Foundation
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