Pubdate: Wed, 11 Dec 2002
Source: Times Of Acadiana, The (LA)
Copyright: South Louisiana Publishing 2002
Note: additional fax: (337)261-2630
Author: Robert Sharpe, Kirk Muse


The core message of letter writer Dailey Berard is certainly worth heeding 
(Letters to the Editor: Dangers of Marijuana Cannot be Underestimated, Nov. 
13). The importance of parental involvement in reducing adolescent drug use 
cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, Berard risks losing credibility by 
repeating government misinformation regarding marijuana. To hear it from 
drug czar John Walters, more Americans are in treatment for marijuana than 
alcohol and all illegal drugs combined. The drug czar is deliberately 
misrepresenting government data in an effort to justify the war on some drugs.

Record numbers of Americans arrested for marijuana possession have been 
forced into treatment by the criminal justice system. The resulting 
distortion of treatment statistics is then used by the drug czar to make 
the claim that marijuana is "addictive." Zero tolerance drug laws do not 
distinguish between occasional use and chronic abuse. The coercion of 
Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis into taxpayer-funded treatment 
centers says a lot about government priorities, but absolutely nothing 
about the relative harms of marijuana.

For an objective take on marijuana, look to Canada. After months of 
exhaustive research, the Canadian Senate recently concluded that marijuana 
is relatively benign, marijuana prohibition contributes to organized crime 
and law enforcement efforts have little impact on patterns of use. In the 
words of Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, "Scientific evidence overwhelmingly 
indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and 
should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health 

Robert Sharpe, program officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.

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In the 5,000 year history of marijuana use, there has yet to be a single 
documented death from its use (Letters to the Editor: Dangers of Marijuana 
Cannot be Underestimated, Nov. 13). The so-called gateway effect is because 
of the policy of marijuana prohibition, not the marijuana itself.

Methamphetamine use is dangerous to users and non-users alike. 
Methamphetamine use is at epidemic levels throughout the United States. If 
you want to know the reason why, I suggest you look to "drug warriors" like 
the so-called Partnership for a Drug-Free America, the people from the DARE 
program and people like letter-writer Dailey Berard.

When these people lie and/or grossly exaggerate the dangers of marijuana, 
they lose all credibility. At least half of all high school students will 
use marijuana before they graduate. They know from personal experience that 
what the "drug warriors" say about marijuana is false. They know, from 
personal experience, that marijuana is not addictive.

Our youth make the logical assumption that if these people lied and/or 
grossly exaggerated the harms and dangers of marijuana, they must also be 
lying about the dangers of methamphetamine, cocaine and other hard drugs.

Therefore, we now have a methamphetamine epidemic. Therefore, the United 
States has higher drug usage rates than any European country.

Tobacco usage, in the meantime, has been substantially reduced without a 
single person going to prison for either using or selling it. Just truthful 
education. The key word is truthful.

Our drug war is not only not working - it is counterproductive. Our drug 
policies are making our drug problems worse. Much worse.

It's time to do something different. Substantially different.

Kirk Muse

Mesa, Ariz. 
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart