Pubdate: Fri, 06 Mar 2009
Source: Visalia Times-Delta, The (CA) 
Copyright: 2009 The Visalia Times-Delta
Author: Steve Diamant


This week a new state bill proposed by politician Tom Ammiano has good
support in the Legislature as well as among popular journalists like
Dan Walter. It will decriminalize marijuana use.

It is well-documented that our jails are mostly full of non-violent,
so-called drug offenders, supported at astronomical costs.

Meanwhile, there is tremendous approval for the medical use of this
drug, whose benefits are well-known.

Zogby polls indicate two out of five Americans believe it should be
regulated like alcohol and tobacco, and so taxed.

And, of course, it should be illegal for children to use. Millions and
millions of our tax dollars are wasted yearly on entrapment programs,
when smart education is needed.

As a former member of Synanon, the premier rehabilitation program in
the USA for 30 years, I know from countless stories, many by former
addicts, that the criminalization of this product is costly and
foolish. It has also caused unnecessary heartbreak for many good
families, including my own years ago. After all, we know that many of
our leading business, religious, sports and political figures, yes,
like Bush and Clinton and Obama, used these drugs. Sure, it can be a
gateway drug by some.

But look at alcoholics and smokers. These legal substances are also
known killers. Remember, prohibition was a disaster, and filled our
land with crime, until it was ended. Sound familiar?

The immediate benefits, such as tremendous financial gain for our
state, will be realized through licensing and taxation on sales and a
reduction of useless and costly policing.

This can be a win-win program. Let's support it.

Steve Diamant

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