Pubdate: Mon, 30 Sep 2002
Source: Detroit News (MI)
Copyright: 2002, The Detroit News
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: The Detroit News printed 5 letters under this headline.


Scare Tactics Foster Drug Abuse

To hear it from drug czar John Walters, marijuana is more dangerous because 
it's allegedly more potent. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Both weak 
and strong marijuana will yield the desired result; only the potent 
marijuana requires significantly less smoke inhalation, so it's actually 
less harmful.

Misleading claims serve to scare baby boomer parents into supporting a 
punitive drug war, but they can cause teen-agers to question the 
credibility of anti-drug messages. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful 
if abused, but that's not the point. Teen-agers who realize they've been 
lied to about marijuana often mistakenly assume that harder drugs like 
heroin are relatively harmless. This is a recipe for disaster.

Anti-drug messages must be reality-based or they may backfire when 
teen-agers are inevitably exposed to drug use among their peers. Walters 
might want to consider that preventing drug abuse, legal or otherwise, is 
more important than drumming up political support for the war on drugs.

Robert Sharpe, Program Officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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