Pubdate: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 Source: Quad-City Times (IA) Copyright: 2004 Quad-City Times Contact: http://www.qctimes.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/857 Author: Robert Sharpe REGULATIONS SHOULD EASE UP It is indeed naive to believe this nation's billion-dollar marijuana business rides primarily on the backs of Hispanics. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, "during the 2000 fiscal year, an estimated $4.5 million in marijuana plants were eradicated" in Iowa. There's a reason local farmers are turning to illegal marijuana to make ends meet. The drug war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make an easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Marijuana can be harmful if abused, but criminal records are hardly appropriate health interventions. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, the U.S. government is inadvertently subsidizing organized crime. Lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States 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 big losers in this battle are the taxpayers who have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices. Robert Sharpe Drug Policy Alliance Washington, D.C.