Pubdate: Fri, 11 Dec 2009
Source: Lake County Record-Bee (Lakeport, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Record-Bee
Author: Bruce Mirken


In her Dec. 3 column, "Off the Deep End -- The  dangerous side of
marijuana," Katy Sweeny makes the  common mistake of blaming marijuana
for the problems  caused by its prohibition.

The violence and environmental damage she describes  exist solely
because marijuana is illegal. As an  agricultural product, marijuana
is not unusual. But  because we don't allow legitimate farmers to grow
it,  the business is left to unregulated criminals who obey  no labor,
safety or environmental laws, answer to no  one and whose imperative
is to get in, get their crop  and get out before the police find them.
There's a  reason, after all, we don't hear of Mexican wine  cartels
planting cabernet sauvignon in remote areas.

As a recreational drug, marijuana is, by any objective  standard,
safer than alcohol. It's less addictive,  massively less toxic and,
unlike booze, does not make  users aggressive and violent. Exaggerated
claims not  withstanding, marijuana use has never been shown to  lead
to increased rates of psychosis or lung cancer.  It's time to regulate
and tax marijuana like we do  beer, wine or liquor, so that we can
have appropriate  controls.

Bruce Mirken, Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

San Francisco 
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