Pubdate: Sun, 23 Apr 2000
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2000, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Contact:  #250, 4990-92 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 3A1 Canada
Fax: (780) 468-0139
Author: Robert Sharpe, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Note: Parenthetical remark at end of letter from the editor of Edmonton Sun,
Headline by editor


RE: "OUR pot laws accomplish nothing," April 17. Mindelle Jacobs is right
about the drug war being a flop. It's more than just a failure, it's a
counterproductive failure.

Virtually no North Americans smoked marijuana until our governments started
telling us not to. Prior to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and
subsequent reefer madness propaganda, few U.S. citizens had ever heard of
the drug. Cannabis use was limited to Mexican migrants and a handful of
black musicians. It has been argued by historians that the original cannabis
laws were a racist reaction to Mexican labourers taking jobs from whites
during a time of economic depression. Cannabis prohibition was never based
on science.

If health outcomes determined drug laws, marijuana would be legal and
alcohol and tobacco would not. Legislation was passed in large part due to
American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst's sensationalist yellow
journalism. Incredibly violent acts were allegedly committed by minorities
under the influence of cannabis.

Simply put, the laws were a means of disenfranchising an entire race. The
original reefer madness propaganda has been discredited. It is common
knowledge that cannabis has a pacifying effect on users.

I find it interesting that white Americans did not even start smoking
cannabis until the government began funding hysterical anti-drug messages.

Today it is the most popular illicit drug and America's No. 1 cash crop. It
would seem that the anti-drug messages have failed.

Exposing the racist roots of the failed drug war may compel politicians to
rethink the issue.

Robert Sharpe

(Most likely it will be a battle won state by state.)
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