Pubdate: Fri, 20 Dec 2002
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Kitchener-Waterloo Record
Author: Cory Albrecht


When I saw Daryl Rotondo's Dec. 14 letter to the editor, my first thought 
was that our society has been condoning drug abuse for generations. 
Specifically, I am thinking of tobacco and alcohol.

We know a lot more today about the harmful effects of tobacco than we did 
50 years ago. Nicotine is an addictive substance but I've never met anybody 
who feels that we should criminalize it like marijuana or cocaine. Sure, 
we've cracked down on public smoking because of the effects of second-hand 
smoke but we still let individuals make their own choice on whether they 
want to use this drug.

Rotondo made the implication that marijuana use leads to use of harder 
drugs, but I wonder if he has considered the costs of alcohol and nicotine 
abuse. The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse estimates that in 1992 the 
cost of substance abuse (from health care to law enforcement to 
productivity losses) for alcohol was $7.5 billion and for nicotine it was 
$9.5 billion. Illicit drugs were far behind at $1.3 billion. Tobacco was 
51.8 per cent of the total, alcohol was 40.8 per cent and illicit drugs 
were only 7.4 per cent.

Clearly, alcohol and nicotine are costing us more than illicit drugs. 
Besides, if marijuana use truly does lead to use of harder drugs, then I'd 
bet that those marijuana users actually started with alcohol and cigarettes 
before joints.

Cory Albrecht

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