Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2007
Source: Springfield News-Leader (MO)
Copyright: 2007 The Springfield News-Leader
Author: Bruce Mirken


The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allowing schools to punish a student 
for unfurling a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" -- and, perhaps, 
any student speech that contradicts official anti-drug dogma -- may 
have an unfortunate chilling effect. But most coverage of the ruling 
failed to note the important points made by Justice Stevens in his 
dissent. Stevens drew a pointed and accurate connection between our 
current marijuana laws and prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s:

"But just as prohibition in the 1920's and early 1930's was secretly 
questioned by thousands of otherwise law-abiding patrons of 
bootleggers and speakeasies, today the actions of literally millions 
of otherwise law-abiding users of marijuana, and of the majority of 
voters in each of the several States that tolerate medicinal uses of 
the product, lead me to wonder whether the fear of disapproval by 
those in the majority is silencing opponents of the war on drugs. 
Surely our national experience with alcohol should make us wary of 
dampening speech suggesting -- however inarticulately -- that it 
would be better to tax and regulate marijuana than to persevere in a 
futile effort to ban its use entirely."

We should confront the mistakes of this new Prohibition, rather than 
trying to silence its critics.

Bruce Mirken

Director of Communications Marijuana Policy Project Washington, D.C.
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