Pubdate: Wed, 03 Apr 2002
Source: Essex Evening Gazette (UK)
Copyright: 2002 This Is Essex
Author: Don Barnard
Cited: (Legalise Cannabis Alliance)


Sir, - Recent comments on the cannabis cafe saga highlights the need for a 
truly open dialogue regarding cannabis in which fear, prejudice, punitive 
prohibition yield to science, common sense and practicality.

I agree we need to protect the community from the consequences of 
inappropriate cannabis use.

But - as is becoming increasingly clear - prohibition is neither an 
effective nor a desirable way of doing this.

Furthermore, the war on some drugs has impeded public health efforts to 
stem underage drinking, vandalism, anti social behaviour the spread of HIV, 
hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

Human rights have been violated, and prison has been inundated with tens of 
thousand of drug law violators.

In all these respects the consequences of drug prohibition replicate - and 
often exceed - the alcohol prohibition in the 1920s America.

Alcohol prohibition in the USA reminds us, too, of the health costs of 
drugs prohibition: Practically every illicit drug purchased at retail level 
contains adulterants [including cannabis resin], many of which are far more 
dangerous than the drug itself.

UKP 80million was spent last year arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating 
cannabis -law violators.

This has resulted in choked courts and prisons, required law enforcement 
resources to be diverted from investigating other crimes and more worthier 
ends such education and economic development to be squandered on ever-more 
expensive doomed to failure interdiction efforts.

Let's be adult about this. Drop the 'Zero tolerance' rhetoric and policies 
of illusory goal of a drug free society.

Accept that cannabis is here to stay, and we have no choice but to learn to 
live with it so cannabis causes the least possible harm and the greatest 
possible benefit - Coffee shops are within this remit.

Don Barnard, Legalise Cannabis Alliance
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