Pubdate: Wed, 24 May 2000
Source: International Herald-Tribune (France)
Copyright: International Herald Tribune 2000
Contact:  181, Avenue Charles de Gaulle, 92521 Neuilly Cedex, France
Fax: (33) 1 41 43 93 38
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding "Kentucky Swaps Moonshine for Marijuana" (American Topics, May 17):

Is it any surprise that poverty-stricken Kentuckians are growing pot? 
Marijuana laws create financial incentives that make an easily grown weed 
literally worth its weight in gold. Marijuana prohibition is no more 
effective than alcohol prohibition was at preventing use. And, Re 
Prohibition in the early 1900s, the societal harm caused by the unintended 
consequences is tremendous.

The manner in which drug laws finance organized crime receives a great deal 
of press coverage, yet it is the threat these laws pose to children that 
necessitates marijuana legalization, While a liquor store will refuse to 
sell 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 drug policy.

Adults are not spared either. Imagine how many lives Would be ruined if 
every alcohol drinker were thrown in jail and given a permanent criminal 

I fail to see why marijuana smokers should be singled out for draconian 

After all, the plant does not cause hangovers or overdose deaths. It is 
arguably a safer drug than alcohol. As far as I can tell the only reason 
for not legalizing, taxing and regulating the sale of marijuana to adults 
is that doing so would derail the drug war gravy train.

Robert Sharpe, Washington
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