Pubdate: Thu, 06 Feb 2003
Source: Abbotsford News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Hacker Press Ltd.
Author:  Robert Sharpe


Editor, The News:

Abbotsford school trustee Uultsje DeJong opposes Ottawa's move to 
decriminalize possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana because he believes 
marijuana is a "gateway" drug.

There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting 
children from drugs.

Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees 
users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What's really 
needed is a regulated market with age controls.

Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as marijuana 
distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will 
continue to come into contact with addictive drugs like cocaine. This 
"gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.

In the words of Canadian Senator Pierre Claude Nolin: "Scientific evidence 
overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than 
alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and 
public health issue."

Marijuana may be relatively harmless, but marijuana prohibition is deadly.

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A. program officer Drug Policy Alliance Washington, D.C.
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