Pubdate: Mon, 18 Jan 2010
Source: News Tribune, The (Tacoma, WA)
Copyright: 2010 Tacoma News Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Bill Virgin's column (TNT, 1-10), there is a big difference
between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs.
Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and
frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records.
What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime,
consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard
drugs like methamphetamine and heroin. This "gateway" is the direct
result of marijuana prohibition.

Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol -- the plant
has never been shown to cause an overdose death -- it makes no sense
to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime
and facilitate the use of hard drugs.

Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like
to think the children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe; Washington, D.C.

(Sharpe is a policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug Policy.) 
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