Pubdate: Mon, 21 May 2001
Source: Times Record (ME)
Copyright: 2001 Times Record Inc., ASC Inc
Author: Robert Sharpe, MPA


To the editor:

Regarding your editorial on the recent Supreme Court ruling against medical 
marijuana (May 16, "High court sends pot plan up in smoke"), the issue is 
by no means resolved.

Congress needs to show leadership on medical marijuana, which 70 percent of 
Americans support. Not only should it authorize medical marijuana, but 
marijuana prohibition itself should be subjected to a cost-benefit 
analysis. The health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to 
the life-shattering effects of the punitive criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, a review of marijuana legislation would open up a Pandora's 
box most politicians would just as soon avoid. America's marijuana laws are 
based on culture and xenophobia, not science. The first marijuana laws were 
enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s. 
Essentially a disenfranchisement tool, they were passed during an ugly time 
in American history when racial profiling was expected. White Americans did 
not even begin to smoke marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government 
bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages and insanity have 
been counterproductive at best. Roughly 38 percent of Americans have now 
smoked pot. The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the 
sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug 
use is the only public health problem wherein key stakeholders are not only 
ignored, but actively persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of the recent 
Supreme Court ruling, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

Robert Sharpe, MPA
Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C.
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