Pubdate: Thu, 24 Nov 2011
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2011 The New York Times Company
Author: Neill Franklin, Executive Director, Law Enforcement Against 
Prohibition and worked on narcotics policing for the Maryland State 
Police and Baltimore Police Department for over 30 years.


To the Editor:

Re "Reefer Madness" (Op-Ed, Nov. 7):

The Obama administration's crackdown on state medical marijuana laws,
as Ethan Nadelmann pointed out, does not make "any sense in terms of
public safety, health or fiscal policy." Medical marijuana is
consistently supported by more than 70 percent of voters. A recent
Gallup poll shows that more Americans now want to legalize marijuana
altogether than support continued prohibition on adult use.

In an earlier era it may have been a smart move for politicians to act
"tough on drugs" and stay far away from legalization. But today, many
voters recognize that our prohibition laws don't do anything to reduce
drug use but do create a black market where cartels and gangs use
violence to protect their profits.

While some fear that legalization would lead to increased use, those
who want to use marijuana are probably already doing so under our
ineffective prohibition laws. And when we stop wasting so many
resources on locking people up, perhaps we can fund real public
education and health efforts of the sort that have led to dramatic
reductions in tobacco use over the last few decades -- all without
having to put handcuffs on anyone.

I have spent my entire adult life fighting the war on drugs as a
police officer on the front lines. I have experienced the loss of
friends and comrades who fought this war alongside me, and every year
tens of thousands of other people are murdered by gangs battling over
drug turf in American cities, Canada and Mexico. It is time to reduce
violence by taking away a vital funding source from organized crime
just as we did by ending alcohol prohibition almost 80 years ago.

The goals of reducing crime, disease, death and addiction have not
been met by the "drug war" that was declared by President Nixon 40
years ago and ramped up by each president since.

The public has waked up to the fact that we need to change our
marijuana laws. Savvy politicians would do well to catch up.


White Hall, Md., Nov. 8, 2011
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.