Pubdate: Fri, 19 Jul 2002
Source: Mississauga News (CN ON)
Copyright: The Mississauga News 2002
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear Editor:

According to your July 5 editorial on crime, Mississauga has become a haven 
for marijuana growers.

Legitimate farmers do not steal electricity to grow produce in the 
basements of rented homes. If legal, growing marijuana would be less 
profitable then farming tomatoes. As it stands the drug war distorts market 
forces such that an easily grown weed is literally worth its weight in 
gold. Rather than continue to subsidize organized crime and put 
neighborhoods at risk of fire, policy makers should consider taxing and 
regulating the sale of marijuana to adults.

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.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. Marijuana may be 
relatively harmless compared to alcohol -- pot has never been shown to 
cause an overdose death - but marijuana prohibition is deadly. As long as 
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers 
will continue to come into contact with harder 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.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, DC
- ---
MAP posted-by: Ariel