Pubdate: Thu, 26 Sep 2002
Source: Burnaby Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)



Your Sept. 19 editorial on the Senate's proposal to end marijuana makes the 
mistake of assuming that punitive marijuana laws actually deter use. After 
months of research, the Senate concluded that marijuana is relatively 
benign, marijuana prohibition contributes to organized crime, and law 
enforcement efforts have little impact on patterns of use.

Consider the experience of the former land of the free and current record 
holder in citizens incarcerated. The steady rise in police searches on 
public transit, drug-sniffing dogs in schools, and random drug testing have 
led to a loss of civil liberties in the United States, while failing 
miserably at preventing drug marijuana.

Based on findings that criminal records are inappropriate as health 
interventions, 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.

The latest drug war fiasco to come out of the U.S. is 'compassionate 
coercion.' This expansion of zero tolerance does not distinguish between 
occasional use and chronic abuse. Jail sentences and open-ended drug 
testing are applied exclusively to consumers of non-traditional drugs like 
marijuana. Alcoholics and tobacco smokers need not fear President George W. 
Bush's legendary "compassion." Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been 
shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive 
properties of tobacco. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the 
counterculture to misguided reactionaries intent on legislating their 
version of morality.

Canada should follow the lead of Europe and Just Say No to the American 

Robert Sharpe, program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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