Pubdate: Tue, 07 Aug 2007
Source: Intelligencer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2007, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: Quit Making Criminals Out of Pot Smokers - July 14.

Lost in the debate over marijuana is the ugly truth behind marijuana 
prohibition. North America's marijuana laws are based on culture and 
xenophobia, not science.

The first marijuana laws were a racist reaction to Mexican migration 
during the early 1900s. Writing under the pen name Janey Canuck, 
Emily Murphy first warned Canadians about the dread reefer and its 
association with non-white immigrants. The sensationalist yellow 
journalism of William Randolph Hearst led to its criminalization in 
the United States.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been 
counterproductive at best. Whites did not even begin to smoke 
marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began 
funding reefer madness propaganda. When threatened, the drug war 
gravy train predictably decries the "message" that drug policy reform 
sends to children. 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 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 addictive 
drugs like cocaine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a 
fundamentally flawed policy. Drug policy reform may send the wrong 
message to children, but I like to think the children are more 
important than the message.

Robert Sharpe

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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