Pubdate: Mon, 20 May 2002
Source: Herald-Times, The (IN)
Copyright: 2002 The Herald-Times
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


To the editor:

Drug czar John Walters is confused if he thinks the principal argument for 
marijuana law reform is that the plant is harmless. Like any drug, 
marijuana can be harmful if abused. It is not the effects of marijuana that 
necessitate a change in drug laws, but rather the effects of marijuana 
prohibition. There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and 
protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social 
reality of marijuana use and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering 
criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with 
enforceable age controls. Right now kids have an easier time buying pot 
than beer.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. Marijuana may be 
relatively harmless compared to legal alcohol - pot has never been shown to 
cause an overdose death - but marijuana prohibition is deadly. As long as 
marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers 
will continue to come into contact with harder drugs like meth. Drug policy 
reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the 
children themselves are more important than the message. Opportunistic 
tough-on-drugs politicians would no doubt disagree.

Robert Sharpe Drug Policy Alliance Washington, D.C.
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