Pubdate: Sun, 01 Jan 2012
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2012 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


The drug war is largely a war on people who smoke marijuana. In 2010, 
there were 853,839 marijuana arrests in the United States, almost 90 
percent of them 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 
marijuana, even though the law enforcement model clearly isn't working.

The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, 
where marijuana is legally available. Decriminalization is a long 
overdue step. 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

The writer is a policy analyst for the advocacy group Common Sense 
for Drug Policy in Washington.
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