Pubdate: Tue, 20 May 2003
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2003 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (William Bennett)


Dimitri Vassilaros' May 8 column on William Bennett's hypocrisy was right 
on target. As drug czar, William Bennett presided over taxpayer-funded 
hypocrisy in the form of the war on some drugs. The two deadliest drugs are 
both legal. Alcohol overdoses kill thousands annually, more than all 
illegal drugs combined. Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs 
available and by far the deadliest overall. It's not health outcomes that 
determine drug laws, but rather cultural norms. The drug war is in large 
part a war against marijuana. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the 
Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United 
States than in any European country, yet America is one of the few Western 
countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish citizens who 
prefer marijuana to martinis.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, 
nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. The short-term 
health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term 
effects of criminal records.

Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to reactionaries 
like Bennett. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, government 
is subsidizing organized crime. The drug war's distortion of immutable laws 
of supply and demand make an easily grown weed literally worth its weight 
in gold.

Robert Sharpe Washington, D.C. The writer is program officer for the Drug 
Policy Alliance.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom