Pubdate: Thu, 09 Aug 2007
Source: Washington Times (DC)
Copyright: 2007 News World Communications, Inc.
Author: Bruce Mirken


Paul Kengor rails against legalizing drugs ("A conservative take on
drugs," Forum, Sunday) as if all drugs were alike and all drugs were
illegal. Of course, neither is true.

Let us consider marijuana, an illegal drug, in comparison to alcohol,
which is legal and regulated. Alcohol is more addictive (15 percent of
users become dependent versus 9 percent for marijuana) much more toxic
and more likely to induce violent and aggressive behavior.

So why exactly is alcohol a huge and legal industry, while we arrest
nearly 800,000 Americans each year on marijuana charges, 89 percent of
them for simple possession? Why have we taken a popular product --
used by at least 100 million Americans, according to federal surveys
that even the government admits probably are gross underestimates --
and given a monopoly on sales and distribution to criminal gangs
rather than legitimate, regulated businesses?

The late Milton Friedman understood, as do other real conservatives,
that the only marijuana policy that makes sense is treating it like
alcohol, with common-sense regulations, taxes and controls.

Bruce Mirken

Director of communications

Marijuana Policy Project

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