Pubdate: Thu, 21 Feb 2002
Source: Salmon Arm Observer (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Salmon Arm Observer
Author: Chris Donald
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


I have a few questions about your story "RCMP charge SASS students" (Feb 
15), which states that all the arrested teens were caught with marijuana. 
Will ruining the lives of these young people have any impact whatsoever on 
the price or availability of marijuana in the Salmon Arm area, or will 
teens just temporarily go to older dealers, who might or might not be 
purveyors of other illicit substances, until new teen sales reps step up to 
cash in on the rebelliousness of their peers?

Do you really believe that any number of expensive police investigations in 
high schools across the country will have any impact on the usage rates of 
marijuana by teens, or even its availability to them?

Do you really believe that our country's current prohibition policy on 
marijuana has not directly resulted in marijuana being readily available in 
every high school, and to any teen who cares to look, in Canada? Before you 
answer, please read the following damning statistics on current teen 
marijuana usage rates and availability from the United States, where they 
spend $50 billion tax dollars annually enforcing drug prohibition, the vast 
majority of it on extremely strict and expensive laws against marijuana.

According to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, a yearly survey 
conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the number of new 
marijuana users [in the U.S. was] 2 million in 2000. About 70 percent of 
those 2 million new users were under the age of 18.

According to the Monitoring the Future study, an ongoing study funded with 
grants provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 20 percent 
of eighth-graders polled in a national study have used marijuana at least 
once in their lives in 2000. That number rises to about 40 percent for 10th 
graders and about 49 percent for 12th graders. Those numbers have stayed 
roughly the same the past five years.

According to the Monitoring the Future study, 88.5 percent of seniors 
surveyed felt marijuana was easy to obtain. That number decreased to about 
77 percent for 10th graders and 47 percent for eighth-graders (Ottawa 
Citizen, Feb 12 2002, "War on drugs can't be won, says U.S. lawman").

The U.S. has proven that even with the strictest possible enforcement of 
marijuana laws, 47 per cent of eighth graders "felt marijuana was easy to 
obtain" (Source for all teen stats: Partnership for a Drug-Free America). 
What are the stats for ninth graders? Now, think about how difficult it is 
for a grade eight student to buy a quart of scotch in either country.

Canadians figured out that alcohol prohibition was a dumb idea that led to 
all the problems we are seeing today with cannabis prohibition - including 
criminal distributors who didn't ask for proof of age - a full decade 
before the Americans.

Hopefully we will also see the light on the current prohibition laws, which 
have resulted in half of all US junior high school students having access 
to marijuana, before too many more of our young people have their lives 
ruined by police stings that don't accomplish a damn thing otherwise.

Chris Donald
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