Pubdate: Sun, 29 Nov 1998
Source: Canberra Times (Australia)
Author: Ethan Nadelmann, Director, Lindesmith Center,


JOHN MILLER ("Big money behind legalising drugs", Letters, 12 November) is
misinformed regarding recent developments in the United States on the issue
of medical marijuana. Few proponents of medical marijuana support the
outright legalisation of drugs. George Soros, the philanthropist and
financier who contributed to the medical marijuana ballot initiative
campaigns, is on record opposing the legalisation of any drugs.

US voters are smarter than Miller thinks. Polls indicate that roughly half
of those who vote in favour of legalising medical marijuana do not favour
broader legalisation. They clearly know what they are voting for.

As for the role of money; Mr Miller should know that in the United States,
federal expenditures on the drug war increased from $1 billion in 1980 to
about $17 billion this year, and state and local expenditures to roughly
$20 billion most of it for criminal-justice approaches. The few million
dollars donated by wealthy men to put drug-policy reform issues on the
ballot represent a pittance compared with the tens of billions spent
(should I say wasted?) on the drug war.

The ballot initiative process in the United States is a fortuitous antidote
to the cowardice of most politicians where drug issues are concerned.

Director, The Lindesmith Center 
New York
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Checked-by: derek rea