Pubdate: Wed, 01 Jun 2011 Source: Hartford Courant (CT) Copyright: 2011 The Hartford Courant Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/IpIfHam4 Website: http://www.courant.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/183 Author: Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v11/n348/a11.html DECRIMINALIZATION IS OVERDUE Regarding Tom Condon's May 29 Place column ["Keeping Drugs Illegal Costs Society Dearly"], the drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. In 2009, there were 858,405 marijuana arrests in the United States, 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 Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.