Pubdate: Tue, 23 Aug 2005
Source: New York Times (NY)
Section: Section F; Column 1; Science Desk; Pg. 4
Copyright: 2005 The New York Times Company
Author: Kevin A. Sabet
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Incarceration)


To the Editor:

Though we are fortunate to have such an astute observer of national drug 
policy as Sally Satel, "A Whiff of 'Reefer Madness' in U.S. Drug Policy" 
(Commentary, Aug. 16) is unfair at best in presenting the true picture 
about why national leaders have particularly focused on marijuana use among 

Our decision to drive attention toward marijuana was borne primarily in 
new, unsettling scientific data pointing to marijuana use alone as a major 
risk factor in mental illness, roadside accidents, cognitive impairment and 
poor performance in school.

The theory that marijuana users are more likely than nonusers to go on to 
other drugs -- while indisputably true -- ranks toward the middle of the 
list in an age when marijuana use alone by youths is causing major problems 
in treatment centers worldwide. It is precisely this new research that is 
forcing governments in Europe to reconsider their soft marijuana policies.

Interestingly, the troubling facts about marijuana have not accompanied a 
widespread rise in arrests or incarceration for the use of that drug.

By contrast, policy makers have wisely turned their attention to 
educational efforts, like the national antidrug media campaign. It's not 
the magic bullet, of course, but it is surely better than doing nothing.

Kevin A. Sabet

Oxford, England

The writer is a former speechwriter for the White House Office of National 
Drug Control Policy.
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