Pubdate: Sun, 16 Feb 2003
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Contact:  2002 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Few Americans realize that the United States may soon be one of the few 
Western countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish otherwise 
law-abiding citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.

Evidence of the federal government's reefer madness is best exemplified by 
the kangaroo court trial of Ed Rosenthal, highlighted in Clarence Page's 
column, "Marijuana jury hoodwinked" (Commentary, Tuesday). By denying an 
Oakland, Calif., police officer the ability to use California's 
voter-approved medical marijuana law and the Constitution's 10th Amendment 
protection of states' rights as a defense, the judge foisted a 
predetermined guilty verdict onto a grossly misinformed jury.

Lost in the debate over California's compassionate-use law is the ugly 
truth behind marijuana prohibition. America's marijuana laws are based on 
culture and xenophobia, not science.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration 
during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical 
Association. White Americans did not even begin to smoke marijuana 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.

The direct experience of millions has contradicted the sensationalistic 
myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug use is the only 
public health issue wherein key stakeholders are not only ignored but 
actively persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of medical marijuana, those 
stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.

ROBERT SHARPE, Program officer, Drug Policy Alliance, Washington
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager