Pubdate: Sun, 27 May 2001
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2001 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the May 18 article on conservative Republican support in the
Maryland legislature for medical use of marijuana, the issue is one
politicians from both parties can get behind safely ("GOP lawmaker
backs pot at rally for medicinal use," Metro). A Pew research poll
found that 70 percent of Americans support medical marijuana.
Marijuana prohibition itself should be subjected to a cost-benefit
analysis.  The health effects of marijuana are inconsequential
compared to the life-shattering effects of the punitive nanny state.
Unfortunately, a complete review of marijuana legislation would open
up a Pandora's box most politicians would just as soon avoid.

America's marijuana laws are based on culture and xenophobia, not
science. The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican
migration during the early 1900s.  Essentially a disenfranchisement
tool, they were passed during an ugly time in American history when
racial profiling was expected.  White Americans did not even begin to
smoke marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy
began funding reefer-madness propaganda.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages and insanity
have been counterproductive at best.  Roughly 38 percent of Americans
have smoked pot. The reefer-madness myths have long been discredited,
forcing the drug-war gravy train to spend millions of tax dollars on
politicized research, trying to find harm in a relatively harmless
plant.  Meanwhile, research that might demonstrate the medical
efficacy of marijuana is blocked.

The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the
sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition.  Illegal
drug use is the only public health problem wherein key stakeholders
are not only ignored, but actively persecuted and incarcerated.  In
terms of the recent Supreme Court ruling, those stakeholders happen to
be cancer and AIDS patients.


Program officer

The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation

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