Pubdate: Fri, 19 Aug 2005
Source: Salem News (MA)
Copyright: 2005 Essex County Newspapers
Author:  Steven S. Epstein


To  the editor:

It's late  summer and the marijuana plants are ripening and the Marijuana 
Eradication Team  is busy flying seek and destroy missions over the 
state.  Your tax dollars at work, subsidizing  the growers who do not get 
caught with the remarkably high price of $240 to  $320 dollars an ounce for 
flowers! To justify  the cost of helicopters roaming our skies at low 
altitude and ground eradication  squads roaming our open fields, the 
spokesman for the District Attorney's office  recites the usual unfounded 
claims about marijuana being a "gateway drug," "is more  potent" and 
therefore dangerous - so dangerous just look at all the children in  treatment.

As for the  "gateway" argument, while it is true that "marijuana use 
precedes hard drug  use as RAND researchers reported in a 2002 article, 
"Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect," that the reason is 
"simply  because opportunities to use marijuana come earlier in life than 
opportunities  to use hard drugs." As for the  potency, there have always 
been very potent strains of marijuana, yet even if on  average today's 
commodity is more potent, it is like saying whiskey is more  potent than 
beer, it is meaningless to the policy debate. Finally as to  the numbers of 
persons in treatment for marijuana, it is because they are  ordered into 
treatment by the Courts.  According to the federal Drug and Alcohol 
Services Information System, 58 percent of all marijuana admissions are 
through the  criminal justice system. Legalizing,  taxing and regulating 
this agricultural commodity used in the past month  by about 10 percent of 
Essex County's adult population, while prohibiting  it to children as we do 
tobacco and alcohol, is the only policy consistent with securing the 
Constitution's promised Blessings of Liberty.

Steven S. Epstein

Georgetown (Editor's note: Steven  Epstein, an attorney, is the founder of 
the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform  Coalition and has long been active in 
the effort to loosen the laws regarding  marijuana use.)
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