Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jan 2012
Source: Times, The (Trenton, NJ)
Copyright: 2012 The Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, 
marijuana would be fully legal and there would be no medical 
marijuana debate (op-ed, "Upper Freehold takes cover behind flawed 
federal law," Dec. 28).

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose 
death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco.

Marijuana can be harmful if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate 
as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican 
immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the 
American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires 
homicidal rage have been counterproductive at best. Americans did not 
even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched federal 
bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. The U.S. 
has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where 
marijuana is legally available to adults. The only clear winners in 
the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs 
politicians who have built careers confusing the drug war's 
collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

- -- Robert Sharpe, MPA, Washington, D.C. The writer is a policy 
analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy (
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