Pubdate: Tue, 10 Dec 2002
Source: Collegiate Times (VA Edu)
Copyright: 2002 Collegiate Times
Author:  Erik Shilts


The article "Legalization of pot does not offer enough benefits for 
support," (CT, Dec. 6) is full of the drug-war rhetoric that has been 
misinforming American citizens for many years.

First, the author claims all proponents of marijuana decriminalization 
merely want to "get high." This may be true for many lobbying on the drug's 
behalf (though the stereotypes of marijuana users propounded in the article 
are ignorant at best). However, it does not mean society would not benefit 
from decriminalization by letting non-violent "criminals" out of jail and 
expanding the government's revenue by taxing marijuana-like cigarettes.

Second, the author makes a ludicrous comparison of marijuana to heroin. 
Heroin is acknowledged as the most addictive drug one can find; use of the 
drug creates an addiction not comparable to the use of marijuana.

An excerpt from "Heroin, Myths and Reality" describes heroin withdrawal 
symptoms: "A protracted abstinence syndrome follows withdrawal 
from   heroin and ... lasts at least 31 weeks after withdrawal, and perhaps 

"Blood pressure, pulse rate, body temperature and pupil diameter seem to be 
the main physiological variables affected. Behaviorally, the subject shows 
an increased propensity to sleep and there are negative changes in mood and 
feeling state." Marijuana use has only been found to induce psychological 
addiction in heavy users, much in the same way people become "addicted" to 
biting one's fingernails, chewing on a pen or pulling out hair.

Third, the author states use of marijuana leads to use of other harder 
drugs. The so-called "gateway drug" effect has been widely denounced for 
many reasons.

Users of marijuana are more likely to run across harder drugs such as 
heroin or cocaine because they are all illegal and therefore likely to have 
interweaving crowds of users.

See the report by Dr. James Anthony and Dr. Fernando Wagner from Johns 
Hopkins University ().

Fourth, the effects of chronic marijuana use, such as mental retardation 
have been shown to be temporary, with all side effects disappearing after 
an extended break (several months) from the drug.

Heavy users of the drug may experience bronchitis-like symptoms, yet use of 
cannabis has never been positively linked to any form of cancer.

Fifth, the author talks about "a moral line" and says we cannot cross this 
proverbial line to legalize marijuana. I would like to know where this line 
is drawn and with what morals.

Is the Bible sufficient for a moral basis?

Genesis 1:29 states: "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb 
bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in 
the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat."

It seems this line was crossed long ago when the drug was first criminalized.

In summary, marijuana users have been harassed for their personal choices 
during America's extended prohibition of the drug. Sadly, ignorance of the 
drug is still widespread today and the prosecution of people exercising 
their free rights will not stop until the propaganda ceases.

by Erik Shilts sophomore, computer science