Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2011
Source: Shelby Star, The (NC)
Copyright: 2011 The Shelby Star
Author; Alicia Banks


The Star asked our Facebook fans to chime in on the war on drugs. 
Should marijuana be-come legal?

What do you think? Find 'The Shelby Star' on Facebook, click 'like, 
and join in on this and other conversations.

If done correctly this could be a brilliant way to help the economy. 
Crystal Buff

Make it legal and tax the crap out of it! Sharon Ervin Hawkins

It will create a much-needed relief on the courts and prisons. 
Legalize it already. Regulate it like cigarettes and alcohol. Kimber 

Legalize it, tax it and let the states make some money on it. Gary N. Lee

It would be easier to keep it away from kids if it were legal and 
sold like alcohol. Drug dealers don't card for age. Also, we could 
tax it, clear up the court and prisons and hurt the drug cartels. Mike Bolin

Can you say "cash crop"? Jennifer Towery Hubbard

* Photo slideshow: A look at the global war on drugs

Some call it a weed. Scientists call it cannabis. Law enforcement 
officers call marijuana the gateway drug that opens the door for 
users to try cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Could marijuana become one of the first illegal drugs to become 
legal? Some prominent world leaders say it should.

A recent report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy advises 
governments to consider legalizing some controlled substances, 
including marijuana. The commission includes a former U.S. secretary 
of state and former Mexican and Colombian presidents. The report was 
released in June.

The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for 
individuals and societies around the world," begins the report. The 
commission asks for governments to experiment with models of legal 
drug regulation to weaken organized crime and keep citizens safe.

Makes drugs more available

Shelby Police Lt. Shannon Price said marijuana is the mildest drug 
compared to heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

He disagrees with the commission's stance.

I don't see how that can help the problem," Price said. "It makes the 
drugs more available."

Rehab locations face many problems, he explained, including a lack of 
facilities, not enough funding or insurance failing to cover the cost 
of a user who needs help.

The commission's report does suggest offering more health and 
treatment services to drug users in need. It discourages punishing 
users with "abusive practices" such as forced detention and labor.

Sheriff Alan Norman, and a father of two teenagers, agrees with 
Price. He said when money isn't enough, some users turn to illegal 
activity to fund their habit.

We're mandated to enforce those laws until the U.S. government or 
state sees otherwise," Norman said.

Reach reporter Alicia Banks at 704-669-3338.

United Nations estimates of annual drug consumption, 1998 to 2008

1998 2008 Percent change Opiates 12.9 million 17.35 million 34.5+ 
Cocaine 13.4 million 17 million 27+ Cannabis 147.4 million 160 million 8.5+

*Source: Global Commission on Drug Policy
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart