Pubdate: Tue, 28 Feb 2012 Source: Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, MA) Copyright: 2012 Sun Chronicle Contact: http://www.thesunchronicle.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/3184 Author: Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy. REGULATE MARIJUANA MARKET; SET AGE LIMITS Regarding James Deblois' Feb. 24 op-ed, if health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be fully legal and there would be no medical marijuana debate. 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 migration in the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched federal bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda. Decriminalization as approved by Massachusetts voters in 2008 acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees users from criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls. As long as organized crime controls marijuana distribution, consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. Marijuana may be relatively harmless, but marijuana prohibition is deadly. Robert Sharpe Washington, D.C. THE WRITER is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.