Pubdate: Wed, 30 May 2012
Source: Charlottesville Daily Progress (VA)
Copyright: 2012 Media General Newspapers
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: the May 16 letter to the editor "Don't sweep [marijuana]
resolution aside" (The Daily Progress):

The General Assembly just passed another budget that fails to
adequately fund transportation. Virginia apparently has money to burn
on other priorities though. More than 21,000 Virginians were arrested
for marijuana offenses in 2010. That amounts to 6 percent of all
arrests. Police time spent arresting marijuana offenders is police
time not spent arresting child molesters, rapists and murderers.

Pot smokers busted after the age of 18 are branded as criminals for
life. The drug war is largely a war on marijuana smokers. In 2010,
there were 853,839 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 result of this ongoing culture war is not 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 is a member of the board of the Virginia Chapter of the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
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