Pubdate: Tue, 8 Jul 2008
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Paul Armentano


Re "As fire rages, the law protects us from marijuana," July 1: Kudos 
to Peter Schrag's common-sense call to tax and regulate cannabis. 
Despite the millions of tax dollars spent during last week's 
"Operation Southern Sweep," not one arrest was made by law 
enforcement, and the availability of marijuana in Northern California 
remains as plentiful as ever.

Let's acknowledge reality. The criminal classification of cannabis is 
disproportionate to its relative harmlessness to the user and to the 
well-acknowledged harmfulness of other substances - particularly 
alcohol and tobacco.

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that nearly 100 
million Americans have tried cannabis, and relatively few have 
suffered deleterious health effects because of their use. 
Criminalizing these millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens is 
expensive, engenders disrespect for the law and alienates large 
numbers of the population - particularly young people.

A wiser national policy would regulate cannabis in a manner similar 
to alcohol - with the drug's sale and use restricted to specific 
markets and consumers. While such an alternative may not entirely 
eliminate the black market demand for pot, it would certainly be 
preferable to today's impotent criminal prohibition and would 
eliminate the need for more federal boondoggles like "Operation 
Southern Sweep."

Paul Armentano, Vallejo

Deputy Director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws 
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