Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jan 2014
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2014 News-Journal Corporation
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Chet Bell's Jan. 26 op-ed, the use of so-called synthetic
marijuana is an unintended side-effect of the war on organic marijuana.

Consumers are turning to potentially toxic drugs, made in China and
sold as research chemicals before being repackaged as incense for
legal retail sale in the United States. Military personnel and persons
on probation who are drug-tested use these synthetic variants to
escape detection.

These chemical highs are sold over the Internet, and cannot be
detected by standard drug enforcement measures. User accounts suggest
dangerous side effects.

Expanding the drug war will nonetheless do little, other than add to
what is already the highest incarceration rate in the world. A better
solution is to legalize natural marijuana.

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

Taxing and regulating marijuana would eliminate the demand for
synthetics, provide consumers with a healthier alternative to alcohol,
and close the gateway to hard drugs by taking marijuana distribution
out of the hands of violent drug cartels. Marijuana may be relatively
harmless, but marijuana prohibition is deadly.

Robert Sharpe

Washington, D.C.

Sharpe is a policy analyst with the decriminalization advocacy group
Common Sense for Drug Policy.
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