Pubdate: Wed, 12 Dec 2012
Source: Times Union (Albany, NY)
Copyright: 2012 Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation
Author: Mitch Earleywine


To the editor

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick should be commended for saying publicly 
what so many elected officials whisper privately: The drug war has 
failed, especially for marijuana ("Ease suffering; legalize 
marijuana," Dec. 4).

Our limited law enforcement resources are better spent focusing on 
serious and violent criminals rather than arresting medical marijuana 
patients or recreational users. And those patients whose doctors 
recommend it should not have to wait for Albany legislators to decide 
what to do about the broader questions of legalization in order for 
there to be regulated and safe access to their medicine.

But by lumping marijuana in with other drugs on the underground 
market, we connect them in ways that expose people to harder drugs 
with far more serious consequences. The long-term effects of arrest 
and imprisonment for marijuana far outweigh the dangers of the drug 
itself. Compared with alcohol, where the impact on aggression, brain 
functioning and driving is so much worse, marijuana's main health 
concerns surround lung function, and those can be mitigated through 
other modes of ingestion beyond smoking.

As a society, we must protect our most vulnerable and not allow 
patients to remain at the mercy of the black market in order to get 
the relief that marijuana affords them.

The only way forward is for the government to permit changes to 
current policy and measure the results. As more elected officials 
follow the lead of Mayor Myrick and come out publicly with their 
positions, I am confident that these overdue changes are coming soon.


Professor, psychology

University at Albany
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