Pubdate: Thu, 24 May 2001
Source: Ventura County Star (CA)
Copyright: 2001, Ventura County Star
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Oakland Cannabis Court Case)


Re: your Sunday editorial, "Federal marijuana laws are outdated":

Congress does indeed need to show leadership on medical marijuana, an
issue 70 percent of Americans support. Not only should states' rights be
respected, but 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 criminal justice system.
Unfortunately, a 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 now 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

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.

Robert Sharpe, Program officer,
The Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington, D.C.
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