Pubdate: Thu, 04 Mar 2004
Source: Las Vegas Mercury (NV)
Copyright: 2004 Las Vegas Mercury
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


With Nevada voters facing a revised marijuana ballot initiative, I
join Steve Sebelius in wondering how politicians will try to defend
the indefensible this time around ["Poll Pot," Democracy in Peril,
Feb. 26]. Punitive marijuana laws have little, if any, deterrent
value. 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.

The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential
compared with 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 nontraditional consensual vices.

Robert Sharpe,

Policy analyst,

Common Sense for Drug Policy 
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