Pubdate: Thu, 16 May 2002
Source: Valley Voice, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Valley Voice
Note: No known website. Contact data not verified.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Sharpe is program officer with the US Drug Policy Alliance
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


In arguing that marijuana growing is not harmless, Sgt. Jim Reaburn 
confuses the [police] drug war's collateral damage with marijuana.

Hazardous marijuana grow operations are a direct result of marijuana 
prohibition, not the marijuana plant.  Legitimate farmers do not steal 
electricity to grow produce in the basement 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.  Rather than continue to subsidize 
organized crime and put neighbourhoods at risk of fire, policymakers 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.  Right now 
kids have an easier time buying pot than beer.  Separating the hard and 
soft drug markets is critical.  Marijuana may be relatively harmless 
compared to legal alcohol - pot 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 harder drugs. Drug policy 
reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the 
children themselves are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, DC
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