Pubdate: Thu, 01 May 2003
Source: Daily Illini, The (IL Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Illini Media Co
Author: Robert Sharpe


Mike Nolan's April 22 column was right on target. The drug war is in large
part a war against marijuana, by far the most popular illicit drug. Punitive
marijuana laws have little, if any, deterrent value. The University of
Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" study reports that lifetime use of
marijuana is higher in the United States than any European country, yet
America is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal justice
system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. Unlike alcohol,
marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share
the addictive properties of tobacco.

The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to
the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana
represents the counterculture to misguided reactionaries in Congress intent
on legislating their version of morality. In subsidizing the prejudices of
culture warriors, the U.S. government is inadvertently subsidizing organized
crime. The drug war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make
an easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold.

The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and
shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers on confusing drug
prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The big
losers in this battle are the taxpayers who have been deluded into believing
big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual
vices. Students who want to help end the intergenerational culture war
otherwise known as the war on some drugs should contact Students for
Sensible Drug Policy at

The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug use
can be found at MTF is funded
by the U.S. government.

Robert Sharpe Program Officer of the Drug Policy Alliance, Arlington, VA