Pubdate: Thu, 5 Nov 2009
Source: Trentonian, The (NJ)
Copyright: 2009 The Trentonian
Author: Robert Sharpe


The drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, by far the most
popular illicit drug. In 2008, there were 847,863 marijuana arrests in
the U.S., almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when
state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and
teachers, this country continues to spend shrinking public resources
criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis.

The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower
rates of use. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the
Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. An admitted former
pot smoker, President Obama has thus far maintained the status quo
rather than pursue change. Would Barack Obama be in White House right
now if he had been convicted of a marijuana offense in his youth?

Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the $40 billion drug war
obsolete. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized
crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will come into
contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This
"gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.

Mr. Sharpe is a policy analyst for the Washington, D.C.-based Common
Sense for Drug Policy. 
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