Pubdate: Mon, 18 May 2009
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Record
Author: Bruce Mirken


Record columnist Michael Fitzgerald is right to question the sense of
marijuana prohibition, given that marijuana is manifestly safer than
alcohol. All prohibition has accomplished is to hand over the bulk of
a very lucrative business to an unsavory collection of criminals,
gangs and drug cartels ("Marijuana prohibitionists are just blowing
smoke," May 8). And he's probably right that much of the support for
prohibition is a hangover from culture wars of previous decades.

But it's important to note that a great many conservatives - the folks
who really do believe in small government - have long questioned the
prohibition of marijuana. For example, the late, Nobel Prize-winning
conservative economist Milton Friedman was a staunch opponent of
prohibition. Friedman, a lifetime member of the Marijuana Policy
Project, wrote the following to then-Drug Czar William Bennett in 1989:

"Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted
as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed
camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an
army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on
slight evidence."

Since Friedman wrote that letter, the number of U.S. marijuana arrests
has more than doubled, to over 872,000 in 2007.

Bruce Mirken

director of communications, Marijuana Policy Project

Washington, D.C
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