Pubdate: Fri, 7 Aug 2009
Source: Oroville Mercury-Register (CA)
Copyright: 2009 Oroville Mercury Register
Author: Julie Estep


With greatest appreciation for John Bullerjahn's years of wonderful
service, I respectfully disagree with his argument that marijuana must
remain criminalized because of its ostensible role as a gateway drug.

It should be no secret that in its unregulated state, pot is often
easier for a minor to access than liquor or cigarettes - themselves
the most deadly of gateway drugs. Why grant cannabis tax-free status
when we could better control its use by regulating and taxing it as we
do alcohol, which is more impairing than marijuana, and tobacco, which
is far more addictive?

Does it make sense that we're cutting law enforcement and other
critical services to afford to incarcerate nonviolent drug offenders,
when we could be putting more cops on the beat from marijuana's tax
revenue and saving overcrowded prisons for truly dangerous convicts?

Keeping cannabis illegal also represents government intrusion on the
business sector at its worst, because it deprives us of marijuana's
harmless cousin, hemp. Hemp is a drought-resistant crop which could
provide jobs and offer local sources of clothing, paper, biofuel,
canvas, rope and nutritious seeds. George Washington and Thomas
Jefferson grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper.
The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were drafted on hemp
paper. Old Glory was made from cannabis fibers. Today, we import
hundreds of thousands of dollars of hemp products from Canada.

In a fiscal crisis especially, criminalizing this lucrative crop out
of an outdated "prohibition" mindset makes no kind of sense.

Julie Estep, Chico
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