Pubdate: Sun, 04 May 2003
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Robert Sharpe
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor, headline by newshawk


RE "POT politics: Let's get past the smokescreen" (April 27): 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.

The biggest obstacle to marijuana law reform in Canada is the U.S. 
government. Despite evidence that punitive marijuana laws fail to deter 
use, the former land of the free and current record holder in the number of 
citizens incarcerated continues to uses its superpower status to export its 
failed drug policies around the globe.

The University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" study reports that 
lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than any European country, 
yet the U.S. is one of the few western countries that uses its criminal 
justice system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.

The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to 
the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana 
represents the counterculture to reactionaries intent on legislating their 
version of morality. Canada should follow the lead of Europe and Just Say 
No to the American Inquisition.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.

(Our series is stirring debate on both sides of the border)
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MAP posted-by: Alex