Pubdate: Sun, 26 Feb 2006
Source: Daily News Tribune (Waltham, MA)
Copyright: 2006 The Daily News Tribune
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Rick Holmes' thoughtful column ("40 years of reefer
madness," Feb. 19), there is a big difference between condoning
marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization
acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees users from the
stigma of life-shattering criminal records.

What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.
Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard
drugs like heroin.

This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.
Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant
has never been shown to cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense
to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime
and facilitate the use of hard drugs.

Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like
to think the children are more important than the message.


policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Arlington, Va.