Pubdate: Thu, 28 Mar 2002
Source: Eugene Weekly (OR)
Copyright: 2002 Eugene Weekly
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Hemp)


So the Drug Enforcement Administration hopes to get tough on hemp pretzels, 
snack bars and veggie burgers and the Eugene-based Merry Hempsters business 
is now in jeopardy ("Ignorning Reality," 3/14). The government's attempt to 
categorize health food alongside heroin seems even more absurd when placed 
in a historical context. Prior to the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 
1937 few Americans had heard of marijuana, despite widespread cultivation 
of its non-intoxicating cousin, industrial hemp.

The first marijuana laws were a racist reaction to Mexican immigration 
during the early 1900s, passed in large part due to sensationalist yellow 
journalism. Incredibly violent acts were allegedly committed by minorities 
under marijuana's influence. White Americans did not even begin smoking pot 
until a soon-to-be entrenched 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 to spend millions of tax dollars on politicized 
research, trying to find harm in a relatively harmless plant.

Unlike alcohol, pot has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor 
does it share the addictive properties of nicotine. Unfortunately, 
marijuana has come to represent '60s counterculture to misguided 
reactionaries intent on legislating their version of morality. This country 
cannot afford to continue subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors to 
the tune of $50 billion annually.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom