Pubdate: Mon, 18 Sep 2000
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2000 The Sun-Times Co.
Contact:  401 N. Wabash, Chicago IL 60611
Author: Robert Sharpe


Kudos to Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader for having the 
good sense to advocate marijuana legalization ["Nader slams war on 
drugs; calls for legalization of pot," news story, Sept. 9]. The 
hypocrisy of the mainstream candidates is glaring.  

Vice President Al Gore is an acknowledged former pot smoker. George W. 
Bush's waffling all but confirms a history of illegal drug use. Yet 
both mainstream candidates implicitly support the incarceration of 
Americans who engage in the same youthful indiscretions they once did.  

This "tough on drugs" posturing puts children at risk. Marijuana is 
often demonized as a gateway drug leading to use of crack and heroin. 
However, it is our misguided drug policy that provides the gateway. 
Liquor store clerks don't offer customers free samples of crack when 
they buy alcohol. They also check IDs for age--something unheard of on 
the black market.  

Regulation is desperately needed to restrict access to drugs. 
Legalizing marijuana for adults would undermine the volatile black 
market and make it harder for kids to purchase drugs.  

This harm reduction shift may send the "wrong message" to children, but 
I like to think that the children themselves are more important than 
the message. Then again, I'm not a sanctimonious politician who depends 
on drug hysteria for re-election.  

Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, George Washington 
University, Washington, D.C.  
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