Pubdate: Fri, 13 Jun 2003
Source: Imprint (CN ON Edu)
Copyright: Imprint Publications 2003.
Author: Greg Francisco


To the Editor,

Gopaul Deosaran does a nice job summarizing the adverse health effects 
associated with cannabis. Which only makes it doubly unfortunate that he 
misses the point entirely. No one in the sensible drug law reform movement 
claims that smoking cannabis is risk free, particularly for children. The 
point is, prohibition is worse.

The greatest danger of using cannabis isn't the physical effects; it's the 
risk of being dragged through the criminal justice system. Every year 
hundreds of thousands of otherwise ordinary, non-violent and productive 
adult citizens are caught up in the dragnet of prohibition, branded for 
life as criminals. It's not just cannabis users who pay the price.

Annual costs of the Drug War Inc. are estimated to range up to $40 billion 
in the U.S. alone, billions more around the world.

Yes, there are some risks associated with smoking pot but no greater than 
any number of other legal activities such as motorcycle riding, eating a 
diet high in fat or even going for a swim. If we are going to start 
outlawing things that perhaps may pose some risk to someone, somewhere 
sometime, well there are many currently legal substances and activities 
that cause far more harm to individuals and society than does cannabis.

It is not the proper role of a limited, democratic government to protect 
adult citizens from their own folly. Attempts to do so simply open the door 
to intrusive, paternalistic government and cradle to grave socialism.

If we truly wish to raise a new generation of responsible citizens, the 
first step is for the government to step aside and let citizens take 
responsibility for their own actions and well-being.

- --Greg Francisco Board member, Teachers Against Prohibition
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