Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2009
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2009 Athens Newspapers Inc
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the commentary from syndicated columnist Froma Harrop
("'America's Best Idea' meets one of worst") in Sunday's Banner-Herald
criticizing this country's war on drugs:

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms,
marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been
shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive
properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if
abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and
ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican
immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the
American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires
homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. White Americans
did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched federal
bureaucracy began funding "reefer madness" propaganda.

Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. The United
States has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where
marijuana is legally available to adults older than 18. The only clear
winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless
tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing the drug
war's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

Robert Sharpe

* Robert Sharpe is a policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug
Policy in Washington, D.C., which works to raise questions about
current drug policy and to educate the public about alternative policies. 
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