Pubdate: Fri, 19 Apr 2002
Source: Standard, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002, The Standard
Author: Robert Sharpe


Niagara's 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 then farming tomatoes. 
As it stands, the drug war distorts market forces such that an easily grown 
weed is literally worth its weight in gold. Rather than continue to provide 
price supports for organized crime and put neighbourhoods at risk of fire, 
policy makers should consider taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana 
to adults.

There is a big difference between 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 

What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls. Separating 
the hard and soft drug markets is critical. 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 hard drugs. Current drug 
policy is a gateway policy.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Connecticut Avenue

Washington, D.C.
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