Pubdate: Sat, 26 Apr 2003
Source: Clarion-Ledger, The (MS)
Copyright: 2003 The Clarion-Ledger
Author: William E. Wallace


The Bush administration's antagonistic stance toward marijuana is misguided 
and counterproductive. A recent series of full-page ads placed by the 
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in newspapers across the 
country pleaded with parents to talk to their teens about marijuana and 
repeated exaggerations and distortions about the drug.

Marijuana was first made illegal under federal law in 1937, a time when 
only a small fraction of the U.S. population had ever used the drug. By 
2001, some 83 million Americans - or nearly a third of the population - had 
used the drug at least once. Under a prohibition regime, marijuana use has 
increased by 2,000 percent.

Prohibition makes it easier for teens to obtain marijuana because drug 
dealers don't ask for identification. While it's true that teens do have 
limited (albeit illegal) access to alcohol and cigarettes through lax 
enforcement of state liquor and tobacco laws, the complete lack of 
regulation on marijuana lets teens buy it from corner drug dealers, who 
don't care how old you are.

The U.S., by keeping marijuana illegal for all purposes and all people, has 
missed its opportunity to rein in the criminal market. By regulating and 
taxing marijuana, we could ensure that teens have less access to the drug 
and corner drug dealers are put out of business.

Marijuana is bad for kids, but marijuana prohibition is worse.

William E. Wallace

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