Pubdate: Mon, 10 Mar 2003
Source: Richmond News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003, Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark:  (Canadian Senate Committee on 
Illegal Drugs)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


Dear Editor,

Richmond's hazardous marijuana grow operations (News, Mar. 1) are a direct 
result of marijuana prohibition.

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.

Rather than continue to subsidize organized crime and put neighbourhoods at 
risk of fire, Canadian policymakers should ignore the reefer madness 
hysteria of the U.S. government and instead look to their own Senate for 
guidance. In the words of Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, "Scientific evidence 
overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than 
alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and 
public health issue."

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 
records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as marijuana 
distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will 
continue to come into contact with addictive drugs like cocaine. This 
"gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy. Drug 
policy may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the 
children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe, MPA, Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, DC
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager