Pubdate: Fri, 14 Dec 2001
Source: Beacon Journal, The (OH)
Copyright: 2001 The Beacon Journal Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Washington Post David Broder's column on the recent U.S. Drug Enforcement 
Administration raid on a California medical marijuana club ("What are DEA 
bosses smoking? Their enemy is all-too-familiar," Beacon Journal, Nov. 11) 
highlighted the absurdity of waging a $50 billion war on consensual vices 
at a time when the country faces the all-too-real threat of international 
terrorism. 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. Marijuana may be relatively 
harmless compared to legal alcohol -- the plant has never been shown to 
cause an overdose death -- but marijuana prohibition is quite deadly. As 
long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, 
consumers will continue to come into contact with hard drugs like meth and 

Taxing and regulating marijuana is a cost-effective alternative to the 
failed drug war.

Robert Sharpe Washington, D.C.

Editor's note: The writer is program officer with the Lindesmith 
Center-Drug Policy Foundation, an organization that describes itself as 
dedicated to broadening and informing public debate on drugs.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom