Pubdate: Sat, 14 Nov 2009
Source: Aspen Times Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Aspen Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


Dear Editor:

Regarding Roger Marolt's Nov. 6 column: 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
scarce 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 prohibition status quo
rather than pursue real change. Would Barack Obama be in the White
House right now if he had been convicted of a marijuana offense in his

Decriminalization is a step in the right direction. Taxing and
regulating marijuana would render the $50 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

Policy Analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy 
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