Pubdate: Sun, 29 Dec 2002
Source: Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Wausau Daily Herald


EDITOR: The following letter is written in response to the Dec. 20 letter 
written by Kurt B. Zengler, Lincoln County assistant district attorney: 
Lost in the debate over the Marathon County ordinance that allows those 
caught with small amounts of marijuana to be penalized with a fine instead 
of a criminal charge is the ugly truth behind marijuana prohibition. If 
health outcomes determined drug laws, marijuana would be legal. Unlike 
alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death nor does 
it share the addictive properties of tobacco.

America's marijuana laws are based on culture and xenophobia, not science. 
The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration 
during the early 1900's, despite opposition from the American Medical 
Association. White Americans did not even begin to smoke marijuana until 
government bureaucracy began funding reefer-madness propaganda. 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 that spends 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 use, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

Robert Sharpe, program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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