Pubdate: Sun, 12 Sep 2004
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2004 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Sean McAllister
Note: Another of 8 letters published in response to the Post's editorial 
'It's Time to Rethink and Reform Drug Laws'


We applaud The Denver Post for continuing its strong support of drug policy 
reform with its editorial calling for the legalization, regulation, and 
taxation of marijuana. We are proud to announce the recent formation of a 
new non-profit organization, Sensible Colorado, dedicated to ending the 
failed policies of unregulated marijuana prohibition and the unproductive 
approach to other drug use in Colorado. Both Nevada and Alaska will have 
citizen's initiatives on the ballot this November calling for the 
regulation and taxation of marijuana.

While marijuana use and abuse should never be encouraged, Sensible Colorado 
will educate voters about the social and economic benefits of regulating 
marijuana like alcohol. For example, as Colorado has one of the highest 
rates of marijuana use in the country, regulating it would remove the 
threat of arrest and jail for adults over 21 who use marijuana without 
harming others. Nationwide, there are approximately 700,000 marijuana 
arrests every year and at least 30,000 people in prison or jails for 
marijuana violations. This is an enormous waste of limited police resources 
that should be used to address violent crimes, property crimes, and people 
who drive under the influence of any drug. A 2001 study in Nevada showed 
that taxing marijuana could generate approximately $30 million per year, 
money that could be used to fund health care for all citizens or treatment 
for drug addiction. Regulating marijuana takes control away from the 
criminal element and eliminates the gateway effect by reducing the 
opportunity for drug dealers to push other harder drugs along with marijuana.

The current system is not working. It's time for sensible marijuana policy 
in Colorado that focuses on reducing actual harms of the drug rather than 
on zealous prohibition to the exclusion of all other values.

Sean McAllister, Denver

The writer is chairman of Sensible Colorado.
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