Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jul 2004
Source: Laurel Leader-Call (MS)
Copyright: 2004 Laurel Leader-Call
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the Editor:

Editor Tom Mayer makes the common mistake of assuming that punitive
drug laws actually reduce use (in his July 23 column).

The drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, by far the most
popular illicit drug. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the
Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the
United States than 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 many Americans. In subsidizing the
prejudices of culture warriors, the U.S. 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. The only
clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless
tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers on confusing drug
prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The
big losers in this battle are the American taxpayers who have been
deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to
non-traditional consensual vices.

Robert Sharpe, MPA

Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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