Pubdate: Sat, 30 Aug 2014
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014, Sarnia Observer
Author: Robert Sharpe
Page: A6


Re: Brian MacLeod's thoughtful Aug. 21 column.

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 racist
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 U. S.

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, DC
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