Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jun 2002
Source: Willamette Week (OR)
Copyright: 2002 Willamette Week
Author: Robert Sharpe


The "smoke a joint, lose your license" law covered in your June 12 article 
["Bushwhacked!"] was created at a time when former drug czar William 
Bennett felt a need to "create consequences" for marijuana 
smokers--consequences like denying them the opportunity to function as 
productive, taxpaying members of society. Like any drug, marijuana can be 
harmful if abused, but forced unemployment and criminal records are hardly 
appropriate health interventions.

Diet is the No. 1 determinant of health outcomes. Do we really want big 
government monitoring everything that goes into our bodies? And if it is 
the proper role of government to punish citizens for unhealthy choices, why 
target marijuana? Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause 
an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of nicotine.

Unfortunately, marijuana represents '60s counterculture to reactionaries in 
Congress intent on forcibly imposing their version of morality. The United 
States now has the highest incarceration rate in the world, in large part 
due to the war on some drugs. At an average cost of $25,071 per inmate 
annually, maintaining the world's largest prison system can hardly be 
considered fiscally conservative. This country cannot afford to continue 
subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors.

Robert Sharpe

Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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