Pubdate: Thu, 12 Jun 2003
Source: Herald-Dispatch, The (WV)
Copyright: 2003 The Herald-Dispatch
Author: Al Sniff


The Bush administration's antagonistic stance toward marijuana is misguided 
and counterproductive.

A recent series of full-page newspaper ads -- placed by the Office of 
National Drug Control Policy -- pleaded with parents to talk to their teens 
about marijuana, and repeated several exaggerations and distortions about 
the drug.

Marijuana was made illegal under federal law in 1937, a time when only a 
small fraction of the U.S. population had ever used it. By 2001, some 83 
million Americans -- or nearly one-third of the population -- had used the 
drug at least once. Under a prohibition regime, marijuana use has increased 
2,000 percent.

Prohibition makes it easier for teens to obtain marijuana, because the 
corner drug dealers don't ask for identification.

While it's true that teens do have limited (albeit illegal) access to 
alcohol and cigarettes through lax enforcement of state liquor and tobacco 
laws, the complete lack of regulation on marijuana lets teens buy it from 
dealers who don't care how old you are as long as you have cash.

The United States, by keeping marijuana illegal for all purposes and all 
people, has missed its opportunity to rein in the criminal market that 
reaps enormous profits by selling marijuana to teens.

By regulating and taxing marijuana, we could make sure teens have less 
access to it -- and put the corner drug dealers out of business.

Al Sniff,  Huntington
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