Pubdate: Thu, 19 Apr 2007
Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)
Copyright: 2007 Madison Newspapers, Inc.
Author: Dan A. Goldstein


It is true that lessening the severity of Wisconsin's anti-marijuana
statutes would be a useful first step toward creating a sensible drug
policy. Nationally, billions of dollars are wasted and hundreds of
thousands of people are arrested each year for the victimless crime of
pot use.

Realistically, there should be no penalties at all for responsible
adult use of cannabis. Marijuana is probably the most benign substance
to ever be criminalized by a government.

In the 1920s, America engaged in a particularly disastrous effort to
regulate the production, distribution and consumption of alcoholic
beverages. Prohibition fomented bloody turf wars between organized
criminal gangs, which rushed to fill the lucrative illicit demand.
Organized crime flourished and became an entrenched phenomenon in the

Prohibition's spectacularly negative impact should serve as a warning
that supposedly well-meaning efforts to control the use of a substance
often have dire repercussions.

In the case of marijuana, repercussions include the allocation of
taxpayer dollars to persecute pot smokers and the suppression of a
medicine widely recognized for its use in treating serious ailments.
The war on pot has also led to a morally dubious "snitch culture" in
which citizens are encouraged to inform on their neighbors.

Dan A. Goldstein, Madison
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