Pubdate: Wed, 13 Mar 2002
Source: Independent, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Conolly Publishing Ltd.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Hazardous marijuana grow operations are a direct result of marijuana 
prohibition, not the plant itself. Legitimate farmers do not steal 
electricity to grow produce in the basements of rented homes. If legal, 
growing marijuana would be less profitable than farming tomatoes. As it 
stands the drug war distorts market forces such that an easily grown weed 
is literally worth its weight in gold. The efforts of police to eradicate 
grow ops guarantees more of the same. Rather than to continue to subsidize 
organized crime and put neighborhoods at risk of fire, policymakers should 
consider taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana to adults. There is a 
big difference in 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. At 
present time kids have an easier time buying pot than beer. Far more 
disturbing is how marijuana's illegal status exposes users to sellers of 
hard drugs. Marijuana may be relatively harmless compared to alcohol - the 
plant 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 
drugs like cocaine.

Robert Sharpe,
M.P.A. Program Officer Drug Policy Alliance,
Washington D.C.
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