Pubdate: Wed, 17 Jan 2007
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2007 Burlington Free Press
Author: James J. Bosek


While John T. Quinn does point out the flaws of decriminalized 
marijuana in "Is legalizing marijuana a good idea?" (Jan. 13) the 
pros of legalization are not adequately addressed. Mr. Quinn shows 
that while possession of small amounts has not resulted in jail 
sentences in Vermont, the desired effect has not been achieved.

Legalized marijuana would come with regulations that would hamper the 
availability to teenagers much as it has with alcohol and tobacco. 
Supplying these to the under-aged is a criminal offense and comes 
with appropriate penalties. Surely simple prohibition of alcohol and 
tobacco would create a black market for these substances, which would 
increase availability to youths.

Marijuana may exist as a gateway drug due to the fact that the law 
does not truly differentiate between marijuana and other more harmful 
drugs. Illegal marijuana may also increase crime in general simply 
because it exists as a gateway to other illicit behaviors.

I would doubt that changes in marijuana law would result in an influx 
of resident "pot heads" for the same reasons Vermont has trouble 
keeping its citizens, namely the high cost of housing, high taxes, 
and a lack of good paying jobs. Legalized marijuana may, however, 
increase tourism and tax revenue in Vermont in the same way legalized 
gambling has increased tourism and tax revenue in many areas.

Society does not condone the use of alcohol or tobacco, but the legal 
status of these harmful substances recognizes that prohibition 
creates larger issues. John T. Quinn is correct when he states that 
decriminalization of marijuana is a bad idea, decriminalization 
simply does not go far enough.


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