Pubdate: Thu, 31 Jul 2014
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2014 The New York Times Company
Authors: Peter Bensinger And Robert L. Dupont


To the Editor:

Much of the country - with The New York Times regrettably in the
vanguard - is advocating the reckless addition of a third drug,
marijuana, to two drugs currently legal for adults: alcohol and
tobacco. These two legal drugs are the leading causes of preventable

The legal status of a drug has dramatic impact on its use. In the last
30 days, 52 percent of Americans 12 and older used alcohol, 27 percent
used tobacco and only 7 percent used marijuana. The dramatically lower
level of marijuana use reflects its illegal status, not its appeal.
Why is it in our nation's interest to see marijuana use climb? Since
when is smoking a program that we promote?

The best policy to protect public health is one that reduces, not
increases, marijuana use. There are plenty of ways to achieve this
goal, including a strong public education effort focused on the
negative health effects of marijuana.

There are reasons why employers, including the United States
government, prohibit marijuana use in the workplace. There are reasons
why marijuana emergency room admissions are reported at the rate of
1,250 a day and 455,000 a year, and why highway crashes double for
marijuana users.

We cannot ignore the negative effects that legalization would have on
under-age use and addiction, highway safety, treatment costs, mental
health problems, emergency room admissions, workplace accidents and
productivity, and personal health.



Chicago, July 30, 2014

Mr. Bensinger was administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
from 1976 to 1981. Mr. DuPont, president of the Institute for Behavior
and Health, was director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse from
1973 to 1978.
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