Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jan 2004
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 BC Newspaper Group and New Media Development
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Editor: This is a response to your Dec. 28 editorial and Jan. 2 guest
editorial on marijuana legalization.

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.

Marijuana may be relatively harmless, but marijuana prohibition is deadly.
In the words of Canadian Senator Pierre-Claude Nolin, "Scientific evidence
overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than
alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue, but as a social and
public health issue."

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 citizens
incarcerated continues to use 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

The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug use
can be found at:

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy, Washington,
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MAP posted-by: Josh