Pubdate: Wed, 11 Feb 2004
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2004 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Robert Sharpe


John Hieger is absolutely right about the drug war being a failure.
The drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, by far the most
popular illicit drug.

The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study reports that
lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any
European country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that
uses its criminal justice system to punish citizens who prefer
marijuana to martinis.

Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose
death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. The
short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to
the long-term effects of criminal records.

Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to many
Americans. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, the U.S.
government is inadvertently subsidizing organized crime. The drug
war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make an easily
grown weed literally worth its weight in gold.

The only clear winners in the war on some drugs are drug cartels and
shameless tough-on-drugs politicians, who've built careers on
confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively
harmless plant.

The big losers in this battle are the American taxpayers, who have
been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response
to non-traditional consensual vices. The results of a comparative
study of European and U.S. rates of drug use can be found at:

Robert Sharpe, MPA, policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy, Arlington, Va. 
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