Pubdate: Wed, 17 Nov 2004
Source: East Bay Express (CA)
Copyright: 2004 New Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients in
need, but adult recreational use should be regulated. Marijuana
prohibition has done little other than burden millions of otherwise
law-abiding citizens with criminal records. 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 use 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 US government is subsidizing
organized crime.

The drug war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand makes
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
nontraditional consensual vices.

The results of a comparative study of European and US rates of drug
use can be found at

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC
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