Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2011
Source: Grand Junction Free Press (CO)
Copyright: 2011 Grand Junction Free Press
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Travis Kelly's July 1 column, 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, MPA Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.
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