Pubdate: Sun, 20 Apr 2003
Source: The Dominion Post (WV)
Copyright: 2003 The Dominion Post


To the Editor:

Kudos to Jack Anderson for his thoughtful article, "Criminalization of 
Personal Behavior Crowds Prisons," on Monday (April 14).

An aspect of the drug war he didn't address is the collateral damage, which 
our most weak and vulnerable citizens become in our pursuit of sobriety. 
Sick and dying patients are denied safe and effective medicine, while we 
wage an unwinnable "war on marijuana." "Drug Czar" John Walters continues, 
unconscionably, to order the arrest and imprisonment of good, honest, 
tax-paying citizens in California and elsewhere, for simply wanting to take 
a medicine that lets them live.

We're told this inhumane practice is necessary "for the children." However, 
by carefully examining what effect the decriminalization of medical 
marijuana has had on California teens since 1996, it's clear this novel 
approach of legalization is what really works. Teen use of marijuana in 
California has declined nearly 10 percent in just six years. Our nation's 
war on some politically selected drugs has never been able to claim the 
same success in reducing teen use.

In addition, through honest educational programs and the regulation of 
tobacco and alcohol, we've finally seen a reduction in teen use of these 
drugs. This would not have been as successful had we taken the same 
approach of prohibition, rather than regulation. It's time our leaders 
recognize the harm we're causing through our well-intentioned 
criminalization of cannabis.

We need a fresh approach that emphasizes education and treatment for those 
who need it, while ending the obscene practice of jailing people for 
choosing to use an ancient herbal remedy. Time and again, we've proven to 
ourselves that prohibition doesn't help, it hurts. Now that we know better, 
we must do better!

Mrs. Erin Hildebrandt

Mother of five

Smithburg, Md.
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