Pubdate: Fri, 06 Oct 2000
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA)
Copyright: 2000 Richmond Newspapers Inc.
Contact:  P.O. Box 85333, Richmond, VA 23293
Fax: (804) 775-8072
Author: Robert Sharpe


Editor, Times-Dispatch: Regarding the September 25 story, "Kentucky Pot
Growers Lacing Virginia Lands": It should come as no surprise that Kentucky
pot growers are expanding their operations into Virginia. Marijuana laws
create financial incentives that make an easily grown weed literally worth
its weight in gold. Eradication efforts make growing more profitable by
driving the price up. Marijuana prohibition is no more effective than
alcohol prohibition was at preventing use. And like Prohibition in the early
1900s, the societal harm caused by the unintended consequences is

The manner in which drug laws finance organized crime receives a great deal
of press coverage, yet it is the threat the unregulated black market poses
to children that necessitates marijuana legalization. While a liquor store
will refuse alcohol to a minor to avoid losing its license, a drug dealer
will sell to anyone with cash. Keep in mind that marijuana is the most
popular illicit drug and, because of its black-market status, provides the
contacts that introduce youth to harder drugs. Current drug policy is
effectively a gateway policy.

Adults are not spared, either. Imagine how many lives would be ruined if
every beer drinker were thrown in jail and given a permanent criminal
record. I fail to see why marijuana smokers should be singled out for
draconian punishment. The plant is arguably safer than alcohol. As far as I
can tell the only reason for not undermining the black market by taxing and
regulating the sale of marijuana to adults is that doing so would derail the
drug-war gravy train.

Robert Sharpe, Washington, D.C.
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