Pubdate: Sun, 23 Apr 2000
Date: 04/23/2000
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Author: Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Note: Headline by editor

RE: "OUR pot laws accomplish nothing," April 17. Mindelle Jacobs is
right about the drug war being a flop. It's more than just a failure,
it's a counterproductive failure.

Virtually no North Americans smoked marijuana until our governments
started telling us not to. Prior to the passage of the Marijuana Tax
Act of 1937 and subsequent reefer madness propaganda, few U.S.
citizens had ever heard of the drug. Cannabis use was limited to
Mexican migrants and a handful of black musicians. It has been argued
by historians that the original cannabis laws were a racist reaction
to Mexican labourers taking jobs from whites during a time of economic
depression. Cannabis prohibition was never based on science.

If health outcomes determined drug laws, marijuana would be legal and
alcohol and tobacco would not. Legislation was passed in large part
due to American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's
sensationalist yellow journalism. Incredibly violent acts were
allegedly committed by minorities under the influence of cannabis.

Simply put, the laws were a means of disenfranchising an entire race.
The original reefer madness propaganda has been discredited. It is
common knowledge that cannabis has a pacifying effect on users.

I find it interesting that white Americans did not even start smoking
cannabis until the government began funding hysterical anti-drug messages.

Today it is the most popular illicit drug and America's No. 1 cash
crop. It would seem that the anti-drug messages have failed.

Exposing the racist roots of the failed drug war may compel
politicians to rethink the issue.

Robert Sharpe