Pubdate: Mon, 18 Dec 2000
Source: Palm Beach Post (FL)
Copyright: 2000, The Palm Beach Post
Address: P.O. Box 24700, West Palm Beach, FL 33416-4700
Fax: (561) 820-4728
Author: Robert Sharpe, find his many fine PUB LTEs at


To add to the excellent Dec. 4 editorial on medical marijuana ("Let
sufferers inhale"): The plant has been used medicinally for thousands of
years. In 1999, a federally commissioned Institute of Medicine report
concluded that there are circumstances in which smoking marijuana for
medical uses is recommended.

Marijuana is one of the most studied plants. Nonetheless, entrenched
interests riding the drug-war gravy train continue to claim further research
is needed.

Not only should medical marijuana be made available to patients, but adult
recreational use should be regulated as well, for a simple reason. Marijuana
is the most popular illicit drug. Compared with alcohol and tobacco, it is
relatively harmless. Yet marijuana prohibition is deadly. While nothing
inherent in marijuana compels users to try harder drugs, its black-market
status puts users in contact with criminals who push them, so our drug
policy effectively is 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, not Supreme Court justices or drug
warriors, should decide what is best for their patients.

ROBERT SHARPE, program officer, Lindesmith Center/Drug Policy Foundation

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