Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jun 2002
Source: Philadelphia Weekly (PA)
Copyright: 2002 Philadelphia Weekly
Author: Diane R. Fornbacher, Mark G. Thomas, Rich Goldman, Scott Newkirk


On last week's special issue about marijuana:

While I can sympathize with writer Solomon Jones' personal struggles with 
addiction, it is unfortunate he mistakenly blames marijuana as the gateway 
to his past perils.

According to a 1999 Institute of Medicine Report: "There is no conclusive 
evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the 
subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs."

The report further explains that marijuana has been mistaken for a gateway 
drug in the past because:

"Patterns in progression of drug use from adolescence to adulthood are 
strikingly regular. Because it is the most widely used illicit drug, 
marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug most people encounter. Not 
surprisingly, most users of other illicit drugs have used marijuana first. 
Though in fact, most drug users begin with alcohol and nicotine before 
marijuana--usually before they are of legal age."


Executive Director

Tri-State Drug Policy Forum


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PW asks: Is it time to reconsider our marijuana laws? My response is: Yes, 
let's reconsider the laws. After reading the PW articles, I have concluded 
that we need stronger laws, stiffer penalties and absolute enforcement 
against the use of marijuana.



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According to Tim Whitaker's "Blowin' Smoke" editorial, there are no 
politicians making an issue of our drug laws.

My fellow Pennsylvanians, I present to you Ken Krawchuk, Libertarian 
gubernatorial candidate for 2002.

Says Krawchuk: "By making drugs illegal, their price has shot through the 
roof. This causes an increase in thefts as addicts have to steal more to 
pay for their habits. Huge profits mean more money to support organized 
crime, which leads to even higher crime rates. And the bigger the profits, 
the worse the class of criminals are that get involved ... Drugs aren't the 
real problem--the drug laws are.

"As the Libertarian governor of Pennsylvania, I promise to pardon all 
non-violent drug offenders on my first day in office. All of them--day 
one--and any new ones, too ...[The Drug War] is insane."

I'd say that is both an argument and a referendum.

Indeed, the war on drugs is insane, and to me and Mr. Krawchuk, immoral. 
I'm glad to see there is finally a politician who not only realizes this, 
but plans to do something about it. I encourage all Philadelphia Weekly 
readers who found themselves in agreement with the points made in last 
week's PW issue to check out Ken Krawchuk at his website,


Elkins Park

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First off, I would commend Mr. Jones on his sobriety. Great strength is 
required to ascend from the depths he details.

I question how he got there. While it may be true that most people who use 
heroin and cocaine first used marijuana, most marijuana users do not 
progress to heroin and cocaine. If it were true that marijuana was a 
gateway drug, then we would have 30 million people (the number of Americans 
who have smoked pot) addicted to heroin and cocaine. Perhaps then the 
failure was in Mr. Jones and not the joint he smoked.



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In last week's editorial about marijuana laws, this editor wrote "... best 
we know, nobody even fired any marijuana law questions at the gubernatorial 
candidates during the recently completed contest." In fact, in published 
interviews with both Rendell and Casey, the City Paper fired very specific 
marijuana law questions at both candidates. Apologies to our friends at the 
CP for the oversight ... Also, in our Heroes and Goats section last week, 
we awarded a "goat" to a police investigation team for conducting an 
"all-out blitz" just to recover an Eagles stolen playbook. Subsequently, 
that blitz resulted in the arrest of a team of thieves that had been 
ripping off cars in parking lots for months. In hindsight, it appears that 
we are the goats and they are the heroes. (T.W.)
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