Pubdate: Mon, 14 Jan 2002
Source: Bangor Daily News (ME)
Copyright: 2002 Bangor Daily News Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


A narrow Supreme Court ruling regarding a medical marijuana club in 
California is no reason for Maine lawmakers to ignore the will of voters 
who overwhelming passed a Maine initiative in 1999. The issue will not be 
resolved until Congress begins to respect states' rights and show 
leadership on medical marijuana, which roughly 70 percent of Americans 
support. Marijuana prohibition itself should be subjected to a thorough 
cost-benefit analysis.

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, despite 
vocal opposition from the American Medical Association. 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 have been 
counterproductive at best. According to a Pew Research poll, 38 percent of 
Americans have now smoked pot. The reefer madness myths have long been 
discredited, forcing the drug war gravy train to spend millions of tax 
dollars on politicized research, trying to find harm in a relatively 
harmless plant. Meanwhile, research that might demonstrate the medical 
efficacy of marijuana is consistently blocked.

The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the 
sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug 
use is the only public health issue wherein key stakeholders are not only 
ignored, but actively persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of medical 
marijuana, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

The Lindesmith Center

Drug Policy Foundation

Washington, D.C.
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