Pubdate: Sun, 24 May 2009
Source: Times Record News (Wichita Falls, TX)
Copyright: 2009 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Bruce Mirken


Joe Brown does a service by raising the issue of whether to end
marijuana prohibition ("Debate rages on legalization of pot," 5/20).

But he frames the debate in a way that misstates the actual

Mr. Brown writes, "What do you readers think: A balanced budget or
opening up the flood gates to wider use of the weed Cannabis?" But the
assumption that regulating and taxing marijuana like alcohol (which is
what reformers actually propose) would lead to an explosion in use is
not backed up by the data.

In the Netherlands, adults have been allowed to possess and purchase
small amounts of marijuana from regulated businesses since the
mid-1970s. After more than three decades, a World Health Organization
study published last year found that their rate of marijuana use is
less than half of ours. And the percentage of Dutch teens who try
marijuana by age 15 is barely over one-third the rate in the United

"The connection of marijuana and criminal activity" that Brown cites
has nothing to do with marijuana and everything to do with
prohibition. After all, prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s made
gangsters rich, and its repeal put the bootleggers out of business.

Bruce Mirken

Director of Communications

Marijuana Policy Project

San Francisco
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