Pubdate: Sun, 31 May 1998
Date: 05/31/1998
Source: Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
Author: Richard D. Elrick, Esq

Dear Letters Editor:

Sen. Bernstein's proposed legislation to increase the penalties for
marijuana offenses is simply more of the same failed drug war policies
that have only served to exacerbate the problems associated with
substance abuse.

As a father, attorney and elected official (Barnstable Town Councilor)
it has become compellingly apparent to me that, like Alcohol
Prohibition before it, marijuana prohibition has created more harm
than the use of that substance ever could.

Both the National Academy of Sciences and the World Health
Organization have concluded that marijuana is one of the least
dangerous drugs, legal or otherwise and creates less of a public
health danger than either alcohol or tobacco. Additionally, more than
a dozen commissions in the U.S. and abroad have determined that the
dangers of marijuana have been exagerated and that moderate use is
rarely harmful.

At the same time we are being forced to release violent felons for
lack of available prison space, it is absurd that Sen. Bernstein would
promote legislation that would put more pot users in jail for longer
terms. How much better and effective it would be for our society if
the good Senator focused on education and treatment, the only true
answers to substance abuse, rather than pushing the politically
expedient proposition that we can incarcerate our way out of the
problem of drug abuse.


Richard D. Elrick, Esq. 15 Yacht Club Road Centerville, MA 02632