Pubdate: Fri, 16 Nov 2001
Source: Providence Journal, The (RI)
Copyright: 2001 The Providence Journal Company
Author: Robert Sharpe,
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Court Case)
Bookmark: (Ashcroft, John)
Note: The writer is program officer of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy


As noted in Froma Harrop's excellent Nov. 11 column, "Ashcroft vs. state
rights," U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft is trying to undermine Oregon's Death
with Dignity Act and California's medical marijuana law. Both laws were
passed by ballot initiative and are protected by the U.S. Constitution's
10th Amendment.

Ashcroft seems to have it in for the terminally ill. The Los Angeles
medical-marijuana club that was raided was renowned for its stringent
requirements. The over 900 patients who depended on it to help them combat
nausea and keep food down will now be forced to buy marijuana on the street.
Not only should medical marijuana be made available to cancer and AIDS
patients in need, but adult recreational use should be taxed and regulated.

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. More
disturbing is the manner in which marijuana's black market status exposes
users to sellers of hard drugs. As long as marijuana distribution remains in
the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact
with hard drugs like cocaine. Drug-policy reform may send the wrong message
to children, but I like to think the children themselves are more important
than the message. Ideology-driven culture warriors like Ashcroft would no
doubt disagree.

Robert Sharpe

Washington, D.C.
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