Pubdate: Wed, 11 Feb 2009
Source: Pocono Record, The (Stroudsburg, PA)
Copyright: 2009 Pocono Record
Author: Skip Mendler


Editor, the Record:

The current kerfuffle surrounding Olympic swimming superstar Michael
Phelps, who was caught on camera apparently smoking marijuana, makes a
strong case for drug policy reform, specifically decriminalization of
possession or use of small quantities of marijuana.

American society allows (if not actively encourages) the social use of
such drugs as tobacco and alcohol, which have their own deleterious
health effects at least as bad as those associated with cannabis.
Given this fact, it is hard to maintain that casual usage merits the
stringent legal and social sanctions that can now befall an otherwise
innocent and law-abiding citizen, even one with the outstanding record
and excellent character of Michael Phelps.

(Of course, I believe that the right to use marijuana, like alcohol
and tobacco, should be restricted to those of legal age, and
irresponsible abuse of that right ,  for example, driving while
intoxicated ,  should be answered by the full force of the law.)

Last year, representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX)
introduced bipartisan legislation decriminalizing marijuana at the
federal level. I understand that this legislation is likely to be
reintroduced in the present Congress, and when it is it will deserve
our support.

We should also be working for decriminalization at the state and local
levels. Too many lives have been ruined by the present system, and too
much taxpayer money expended on prosecution and incarceration of
otherwise harmless offenders.

Skip Mendler

Chair, Wayne County Green Party

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