Pubdate: Wed, 27 Aug 2014
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Robert Sharpe
Author: Robert Sharpe


Re: "Clear the smoke and regulate pot like booze," Aug. 21, Brian MacLeod.

Lost in the debate over marijuana is the ugly truth behind marijuana
prohibition. North America's marijuana laws are based on culture and
xenophobia, not science. The first marijuana laws were a reaction to
Mexican migration during the early 1900s. Writing under the pen name
Janey Canuck, Emily Murphy warned Canadians about the dread reefer and
its association with non-white immigrants. The yellow journalism of
William Randolph Hearst led to its criminalization in the United States.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been
counterproductive at best. White North Americans did not begin to
smoke marijuana in significant numbers until after government
bureaucracies began funding reefer madness junk science. When
threatened, the drug war gravy train predictably decries the "message"
that drug policy reform sends to children. There is a big difference
between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs.

Decriminalization 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 come into contact with hard
drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin. Marijuana prohibition is a
gateway drug policy. Marijuana law reform may send the wrong message
to children, but I like to think the children are more important than
the message.

Robert Sharpe, Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Washington, D.C.
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