Pubdate: Fri, 05 Oct 2001
Source: South Delta Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2001 South Delta Leader
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Editor, The Leader:

Dr. Dave Hepburn is to be commended for his excellent tongue-in-cheek op-ed 
in support of medical marijuana (Leader, Sept. 28). Not only should medical 
marijuana be made available to patients in need, but adult recreational use 
should be regulated as well. North America's marijuana laws are based on 
culture and xenophobia, not health outcomes.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration 
during the early 1900s. An Edmonton woman writing under the pen name Janey 
Canuck first warned Canadians about the dread marijuana and its association 
with immigrants. The sensationalist yellow journalism of William Randolph 
Hearst led to its criminalization in the United States. Citizens did not 
even begin to smoke marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government 
bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

When threatened, the drug war gravy train predictably decries the "message" 
that drug policy reform sends to children. There is a big difference 
between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. 
Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana use and 
frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What's 
really needed is a regulated market with age controls. Right now kids have 
an easier time buying pot than beer.

Although marijuana is relatively harmless compared to most legal drugs - 
the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death - marijuana 
prohibition is deadly.

As the most popular illicit drug, marijuana provides the black market 
contacts that introduce youth to addictive drugs like heroin. Current drug 
policy is a gateway policy.

Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to 
think the children themselves are more important than the message.

Opportunistic "tough on drugs" politicians would no doubt disagree.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Program Officer, The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation Washington, DC
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens