Pubdate: Thu, 23 Apr 2009
Source: Boulder Weekly (CO)
Copyright: 2009 Boulder Weekly
Author: Robert Sharpe


(Re: "Legalize It? Yes or No?," cover story, April 16.) John J. 
Coleman makes the common mistake of assuming that punitive marijuana 
laws actually reduce use. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the 
Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the 
United States than any European country, yet America is one of the 
few Western countries that still criminalizes citizens who prefer 
marijuana to martinis. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown 
to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive 
properties of tobacco. The short-term health effects of marijuana are 
inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records.

Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to many 
Americans. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, 
government is subsidizing organized crime. The drug war's distortion 
of immutable laws of supply and demand causes big money to grow on 
little trees. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug 
cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers 
confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively 
harmless plant. The big losers in this battle are the taxpayers who 
have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate 
response to non-traditional consensual vices.

Robert Sharpe, MPA/Washington, DC
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