Pubdate: Wed, 23 Oct 2002
Source: Daily Star, The (NY)
Copyright: 2002 The Daily Star
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Racial Issues)


An Oct. 17 article in The Daily Star on New York's Marijuana Reform Party 
erred in claiming that marijuana "was used recreationally until the 1930s, 
when the federal Bureau of Narcotics began a campaign against it." Most 
Americans had never even heard of marijuana at the time, much less used it.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration 
during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical 
Association. White Americans did not begin to smoke marijuana until a 
soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding reefer madness 

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been 
counterproductive at best. An estimated 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.

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

Robert Sharpe, Arlington, Va.,

Sharpe is program officer for Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, D.C.
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