Pubdate: Tue, 19 May 2015
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Orange County Register
Author: Robert Sharpe


If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, 
marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been 
shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive 
properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if 
abused. Criminal records are nonetheless inappropriate as health 
interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican 
immigration during the early 1900s, against opposition from the 
American Medical Association. Despite warnings that marijuana 
inspired homicidal rage in minorities, Americans didn't begin smoking 
marijuana in significant numbers until after our federal government 
began funding reefer madness propaganda. There is no doubt that 
marijuana prohibition has failed as a deterrent.

The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, 
where marijuana has been legally available for decades. The only 
winners in the war on marijuana are violent drug cartels and 
shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing 
the drug war's tremendous collateral damage with a comparatively 
harmless plant.

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.

Policy Analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy
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