Pubdate: Mon, 22 Nov 1999
Date: 11/22/1999
Source: Nation, The (US)
Author: Chris Ford
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I disagree strongly with Michael Massing's call to maintain drug
prohibition. "Decriminalizing" drugs is not the answer.

The problem with substances being just a little bit illegal is that
it's too easy for an opportunistic politician to make them a little
bit more illegal.

Possession of less than an ounce of pot has been decriminalized in
California since 1976, but in the mid-nineties Governor Pete Wilson ushered
in legislation that suspends for six months the driver's license of anyone
caught with any amount of marijuana - even when the possession had nothing
to do with driving, As long as a drug is against the law, there is
potential for ill-conceived punishments related to its possession and use.

Massing also misreads drug-war politics.

The drumbeat to end drug prohibition is growing, and I predict that at
least marijuana will be legal in California and/or other Western
states in five to ten years.

Six Western states have already approved "medical" use of marijuana,
and a group in Washington State attempted to place a real
marijuana-legalization measure on the November 2000 ballot.

Chris Ford
Los Angeles