Pubdate: Wed, 19 May 2004
Source: Salmon Arm Observer (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 Salmon Arm Observer
Author: Robert Sharpe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Please consider publishing the following brief letter in response to your
May 12th editorial:

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 a record. 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.

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.

Despite evidence that punitive laws fail to deter use, the former land of
the free and current record holder in citizens incarcerated uses its
superpower status to export its failed drug policies.

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 misguided
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, MPA
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