Pubdate: Wed, 31 Jul 2002
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2002 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Robert Sharpe
Editor's note: The writer is program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance, 
a Washington-based group that supports redirecting most government drug 
control resources from criminal justice and interdiction to public health 
and education.


Regarding the Sun's July 23 story, "State at front line in pot debate":

It's interesting how the same federal government that's seeking to turn 
Nevada into the country's nuclear waste dump suddenly cares about state 
residents when it comes to the war on some drugs. As November draws nearer 
Nevadans can expect to hear all sorts of outrageous government claims about 
the state's marijuana ballot initiative. Federal bureaucrats, like drug 
czar John Walters, will no doubt earn quite a few frequent flier miles at 
the taxpayers' expense. Keep in mind that these are the people who claim 
trucking radioactive waste along state highways poses no serious risk. The 
fact is there is no evidence that punitive marijuana laws do anything other 
than burden otherwise law-abiding citizens with criminal records. Based on 
findings that jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and 
ineffective as deterrents, a majority of European Union countries have 
decriminalized marijuana. Despite marijuana prohibition and perhaps because 
of forbidden fruit appeal, lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. 
than any European country. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown 
to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of 
tobacco. The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential 
compared to the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, 
marijuana represents the counterculture to misguided reactionaries in 
Congress intent on legislating their version of morality. This country 
cannot afford to continue subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors.

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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart