Pubdate: Wed, 20 May 2009
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2009 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Edward Beck


Anti-legalization of marijuana forces often use that tired, old adage 
that marijuana leads to harder drugs. Yes, and to quote the late 
George Carlin, mother's milk leads to everything. Perhaps one of the 
reasons marijuana is a starter drug for many is that the people 
selling it also sell the more profitable harder drugs. The percentage 
of people who are addiction-prone, who could become addicted to 
things not inherently addictive, is small in relation to the 
population at large. These are people who can become addicted to 
cookies or French fries. Should we ban them, too, as obesity is 
unhealthy and raises medical costs for all? Oh, wait, we're sort of 
in the process of doing that.

Let's all deal in reality. Alcohol prohibition cost this country much 
in the way of gangs becoming strong and rich, and with killings in 
the internecine wars that followed their rise. Not to mention loss of 
tax revenue on the illegal, and therefore untaxed, alcohol. 
Legalization and the release of inmates charged with 
marijuana-related offenses would lower prison costs, raise tax 
revenue and weaken drug cartels by reducing their revenue.

Marijuana is a weed, grows easily and could provide a great cash crop 
to farmers who are basically paid to grow nothing to prop up produce 
prices. Waving the magic wand of a law at a problem does not make the 
problem go away, and in the case of marijuana, doesn't accomplish 
much in the end. The reason drugs are made illegal is due to risk of 
overdose and to reduce related crime. Marijuana users aren't addicts 
in the sense of heroin or crack addicts. They aren't mugging people 
or burglarizing houses to feed their habit. This issue needs calm, 
logical scrutiny, not emotionally fed rhetoric.

Edward Beck, Fort Lauderdale
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