Pubdate: Fri, 07 Apr 2000
Date: 04/07/2000
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Author: Stephen Finlay

The March 23 editorial, "Harsh pot sentence is the right direction",
supporting harsh sentences for marijuana growers might have made sense
-- if the laws did.

I am a conventional middle- aged father who has never used drugs and
who drives the kids to music lessons. You wouldn't expect this kind of
person to argue for marijuana legalization. But I do, because
prohibition is helping criminals and hurting the rest of us. As
alcohol prohibition did in the 1920s, marijuana prohibition is now
promoting crime, doing nothing to reduce drug use and wasting public

We are blindly refusing to learn from the past. Now as then, making a
drug illegal gives criminals a monopoly over the product and enforces
that monopoly aggressively. Just as the alcohol monopoly financed Al
Capone, the drug monopoly is financing the Hell's Angels today. Those
who support tough drug laws are, in economic reality, organized
crime's best friends.

The editorial cites violent home invasions and unsafe electrical
wiring. But it is obvious that grow houses contain too much cash and
have jerry-rigged wiring for only one reason: The crop is illegal.
Producers of legal crops do not need to avoid banks and conceal kilowatts.

If prohibition actually did reduce drug usage, it would have that
benefit at least. Chemical alterations damage the brain and I expect
my children to avoid drugs for their own good. But now, as in the
1920s, prohibition does not reduce usage or availability. Instead, it
inflates drug prices, thus increasing the incentive to sell

We should have stopped wasting money on the drug war long ago. The
resources which we devote to protecting the gangs' drug monopoly are
desperately needed elsewhere. When we pursue marijuana growers while
letting fraud artists go free, our legal priorities are not merely
mistaken:  They are insane.

Stephen Finlay,
North Vancouver