Pubdate: Mon, 23 Oct 2006
Source: Aspen Times (CO)
Contact:  2006 Aspen Times
Author: Joe Edwards


Dear Editor:

Amendment 44 would legalize personal use of marijuana under Colorado
law. Marijuana previously was sold over the counter in one ounce
packets for headaches and insomnia and in Brown's Sedative tablets and
Lilly's One Day Cough Cure. Cocaine and morphine were also sold in
drug stores. The big problems began when the drugs were made illegal.
We're repeating the same mistakes of alcohol prohibition. After 24
years of the war on drugs and wasting tens of billions of dollars,
it's obvious sale and use of drugs can't be stopped. These drugs cause
transient pleasurable feelings and there is a continuing demand.

The United Nations estimates illegal drug trade value at $400 billion
a year (equal our defense budget). The United States arrests 1.5
million citizens a year for drug violations, half for marijuana, and
imprisons 440,000 non-violent drug offenders, at a staggering cost to
taxpayers and trauma to the families, as often their children become
wards of the state.

Violent criminals, murderers, rapists and child molesters are released
early to make room for drug offenders. Guards don't have time to read
mail of terrorists because of prison overcrowding. Half of court trial
time and thousands of police officers time is wasted on the war on
drugs. Enormous untaxed profits from illegal drugs fund criminal
organizations which bribe law enforcement authorities. These laws made
violent criminals multi-billionaires and corrupted entire countries;
Columbia, Panama, Mexico and Afghanistan. The extreme violence on our
southern border is drug gangs fighting for the lucrative business. The
drug laws are funding the warlords and Taliban who use the profits
from opium poppies to buy weapons. The definition of "insanity" is
great folly, madness, extreme senselessness, lunacy. Our drug laws are

Supposed health concerns of marijuana use are false, as the legality
of cigarettes and alcohol makes clear. A lethal dose of alcohol is
easily achieved and kills 100,000 a year, is the most toxic drug to a
developing fetus, and causes another 45,000 DUI deaths a year.
Cigarettes, are highly addictive and kill 440,000 a year and are the
leading cause of preventable deaths. Conversely, marijuana has no
lethal dosage, no one ever died from using it, it is not addictive, it
does not cause cancer or other physiological problems.

A drug user seeking pleasure in his home does not harm others, so we
should question the ethical basis for kicking in their door and
putting them in prison. These victimless crimes are a legacy from the
Puritan theocracy, which enforced their belief that seeking pleasure
was a sin. A more rational standard for ethical behavior is that if an
action harms others or their property, it should be deemed wrong and,
if serious enough, made a crime. Otherwise it should be ignored. If
Colorado voters act rationally in November we can begin to stop
imprisoning citizens for harmless marijuana use.

Joe Edwards

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