Pubdate: Tue, 10 Aug 2010
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Robert Sharpe
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: Paul Armentano's Aug. 8 column, "Media's coverage of report spurs
'reefer madness' ":

The drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. In 2008, there
were 847,863 marijuana arrests in the U.S., almost 90 percent for
simple possession.

At a time when state and local governments are laying off police,
firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend enormous
public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis.

The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower
rates of use. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the
Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available.

Decriminalization is a long overdue step in the right direction.
Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the drug war obsolete. As
long as organized crime controls distribution, marijuana consumers
will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like
methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result
of marijuana prohibition.

Robert Sharpe, MPA.

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,

Washington, DC
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