Pubdate: Thu, 7 Jan 2010
Source: Springfield News-Leader (MO)
Copyright: 2010 The Springfield News-Leader
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Brandon Boatman's thoughtful Jan. 1 op-ed, if health
outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana
would be legal.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose
death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco.
Marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate
as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican
immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the
American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires
homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. White Americans
did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched federal
bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. The U.S.
has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where
marijuana is legally available to adults over 18. The only clear
winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless
tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing the drug
war's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

United Nations drug stats:

Comparative analysis of U.S. vs. Dutch rates of drug

The following Virginia Law Review article provides a good overview of
the cultural roots of marijuana legislation:

Robert Shrape

Washington, DC
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