Pubdate: Mon, 18 Dec 2000
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2000, The Detroit News
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Robert Sharpe is Program Officer for the
Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation


Regarding the Dec. 3 article "Troy opposes easing pot law" on marijuana
decriminalization efforts in Michigan:

If the Troy Community Coalition is serious about protecting children
from drugs, it might want to reconsider its opposition to drug law
reform. The thriving black market is very much youth-oriented. The
Monitoring the Future Survey, an ongoing study of the behaviors,
attitudes and values of young Americans, reports that for every year
from 1975 to 1999, at least 82 percent of high school seniors surveyed
find marijuana "fairly easy" or "very easy" to obtain. In 1999, a
whopping 89 percent of high school seniors reported that marijuana was
fairly or very easy to obtain.

Illegal drug dealers do not ID for age, but they do push profitable,
addictive drugs like heroin when given the chance. Sensible regulation
is desperately needed to undermine the black market and restrict
access to drugs.

Marijuana is by far the most popular illicit drug. Compared with
alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is relatively harmless. Yet marijuana
prohibition is deadly. While there is nothing inherent in marijuana
that compels users to try harder drugs, its black-market status puts
users in contact with criminals who push them. Current drug policy is
effectively a gateway policy.

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, replacing marijuana prohibition
with regulation would do a better job protecting children than the
failed drug war. As for medical marijuana, doctors should decide what
is best for their patients, not drug warriors.

Robert Sharpe,
Program Officer,
Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington, D.C.
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