Pubdate: Mon, 29 Apr 2002
Source: State Journal-Register (IL)
Copyright: 2002 The State Journal-Register
Author: Larry A. Stevens


Dear Editor,

Clarence Page has called for a debate on cannabis laws. We could debate the 
relative harm of legal and illegal drugs, cannabis being manifestly safer 
than either tobacco or alcohol, but the real debate is the relative harm of 
drugs and drug prohibition.

Our drug laws do far more harm than drugs could ever do by themselves, 
especially cannabis.  It make no sense to approach the problem of drug 
abuse by adding to the harms associated with it unless the real motive is 
to dehumanize and oppress others.

Harm reduction strategies are producing welcome results in places like the 
Netherlands, Switzerland and California.  The Dutch have successfully 
uncoupled the soft and hard drug markets by the de facto decriminalisation 
of cannabis and fewer of their young people are becoming heroin users as a 
result. The Swiss have begun a heroin maintenance program for hard-core 
addicts that has brought a virtual end to the prohibition-related crime 
that once plagued them. California's new Proposition 36, which mandates 
treatment instead of incarceration for drug offenders, has already reduced 
the number of their female inmates by ten percent, saving the state big 
money and keeping more families intact.

Clarence Page should have named the person or people he quoted as saying 
nobody gets arrested for cannabis anymore. If somebody wants us to believe 
that such arrests are a thing of the past, it should be taken as a tacit 
admission that such arrests ought to be a thing of the past.

Larry A. Stevens

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MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens