Pubdate: Mon, 19 Aug 2002
Source: Times-News, The (ID)
Copyright: 2002 Magic Valley Newspapers
Author: Robert Sharpe


Letter writer Brad Ling claims that drugs are illegal "to protect us." If 
that were the case, the two deadliest recreational drugs, alcohol and 
tobacco, would both be illegal. The drug war is, in large part, a war on 
marijuana, by far the most popular illicit drug. The University of 
Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study reports that lifetime use of 
marijuana is higher in the United States than any European country. Yet 
America is one of the few Western countries that wastes resources punishing 
citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, 
nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. The short-term 
health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term 
effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the 
counterculture to misguided reactionaries in Congress intent on legislating 
their version of morality. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture 
warriors, the U.S. government is inadvertently subsidizing organized crime.

The drug war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make an 
easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold. The only clear 
winners in the war on some drugs are drug cartels and shameless 
tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers on confusing drug 
prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

The big losers in this battle are the American taxpayers who have been 
deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to 
non-traditional consensual vices. The results of a comparative study of 
European and U.S. rates of drug use can be found at or

ROBERT SHARPE Arlington, Va.

(Editor's note: Robert Sharpe is the program officer for the Drug Policy 
Alliance, a nonprofit that works to promote drug policies based on common 
sense, science and public health.)
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