Pubdate: Thu, 15 Nov 2001
Source: Athens News, The (OH)
Copyright: 2001, Athens News
Authors: Ray Carlson, Myron Von Hollingsworth, Robert Sharpe, Bill Sams
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Youth)
Bookmark: (Higher Education Act)


The "sneakiness and secrecy" of anti-marijuana policy at Ohio University to 
which Larry Hayman, president of the OU chapter of the ACLU refers (The 
NEWS, Nov. 12), is nothing new in this nation when we speak of the "War 
Against Drugs."

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1936 was slipped through the back door of 
Congress, supported by the fabrications and lies of William Randolph 
Hearst, the religious fanaticism and racial bigotry of Harry J. Anslinger, 
and then the perjury of Congressman Vinson, who was later rewarded by being 
appointed chief justice.

That this shameful chapter in American History has not yet come to a close 
should be a source of great concern for Americans. As long as government 
can legislate our private behavior, no one except the legislators and 
judges will enjoy privacy or freedom of choice.

Ray Carlson, Redwood City, Calif.

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This is in response to the article about Ohio University's plan to toughen 
marijuana possession penalties (The NEWS, Nov. 12).

Cannabis has no lethal dose and its pharmacological effects have never 
caused a single death in over 5,000 years of recorded history.

The (unseen) driving force against medical (or unrestricted adult) 
legalization of cannabis is the fact that cannabis can't be patented. This 
precludes the need for big business to be involved, and that fact makes 
cannabis commercially unattractive to the pharmaceutical, tobacco and 
alcohol industries (lobbies). It seems that if it can't be profitized 
successfully, the government can't justify legalization even for the sick 
and dying.

Furthermore, the war on cannabis drives the war on drugs. Without cannabis 
prohibition, the drug war would be reduced to a pillow fight. This is the 
politics and the economics of cannabis prohibition.

Maybe the corrupt politicians and media are required to adhere to the party 
line of cannabis prohibition because law enforcement, customs, the prison 
and military-industrial complex, the drug-testing industry, the "drug 
treatment" industry, the INS, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA, the politicians 
themselves et al can't live without the budget justification, not to 
mention the invisible profits, bribery, corruption and forfeiture benefits 
that prohibition affords them.

The drug war also promotes, justifies and perpetuates racist enforcement 
policies and is diminishing many freedoms and liberties that are supposed 
to be inalienable according to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Myron Von Hollingsworth, Fort Worth, Texas

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Ohio University's Students for Sensible Drug Policy is to be commended for 
raising awareness of the drug war's collateral damage. Draconian marijuana 
penalties do more harm than good. That being said, 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 enforceable age controls. Right 
now kids have an easier time buying pot than beer.

Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused. Still, the hypocrisy of 
the drug war is glaring. Alcohol poisoning kills thousands annually. 
Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs available and perhaps the 
deadliest overall. Marijuana, on the other hand, is not physically 
addictive and has never been shown to cause an overdose death.

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, 
marijuana would be legal. The first marijuana laws were a racist reaction 
to Mexican immigration during the early 1900's, passed in large part due to 
newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's sensationalist yellow 
journalism. White Americans did not even begin to smoke marijuana until a 
soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding "reefer madness" 

These days marijuana is confused with '60s counterculture.

This intergenerational culture war does far more harm than marijuana. 
Illegal marijuana provides the black market contacts that introduce 
consumers to hard drugs like meth. This "gateway" is the direct result of a 
fundamentally flawed policy. Taxing and regulating marijuana is a 
cost-effective alternative to the $50 billion drug war.

Robert Sharpe, program officer, The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy 
Foundation, Washington, D.C.

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Increase the penalties for pot at Ohio University? Why? Please tell me what 
this is to accomplish.

If we look at the various vices that people enjoy, we know without a doubt 
that smoking cigarettes kills thousands every year. Yet other than 
excluding it from some places, we take no notice of the doorways filled 
with people puffing away. That includes the doorways to OU administration 
buildings, by the way.

Then there is the alcohol issue. Again there is no question that every year 
thousands die from alcohol-related diseases, not to mention the numerous 
deaths of drinkers and their victims from drunk driving. How many 
university functions serve alcohol?

Now what damage does pot cause?

Cancer? Nope.

Liver problems? Nope.

Driving under the influence deaths? Maybe, but cell phones probably rate 

So what damage does it do? Well, there are hundreds of thousands in prison 
for possession. Certainly, their lives have been ruined.

Also, there is another group who can't get student loans. Certainly, it 
didn't help them make a better life for themselves.

And now we can look forward to the university expelling students for 
possession. Isn't it wonderful when an institution dedicated to education 
rejects those who need it the most?

Now what is the common factor in the above damage caused by pot? It is that 
the rules of our society are the cause of the damage rather than the usage 

The logic, of course, is to keep using a bigger stick to enforce a moral 
issue, with which many disagree, so that at some point you will eventually 
succeed no matter how many lives you ruin in the process. The ultimate 
conclusion of this logic can be seen in the recent videos of the Taliban 
morality police whipping people at random to enforce their version of 
morality. Is this an unfair comparison? Certainly, it is unfair in degree, 
but in the logic of the approach, perhaps not.

Bill Sams, Elmwood Place, Athens
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