Pubdate: Thu, 18 Nov 2010 Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA) Copyright: 2010 Daily Pilot Contact: http://www.dailypilot.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/578 Author: Robert Sharpe Referenced: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v10/n937/a08.html LEGALIZE MARIJUANA, BUT CONTROL IT There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs ("It's A Gray Area: It always comes back to values," Nov. 14). Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls. Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as organized crime controls marijuana distribution, consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine, meth and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition. Marijuana prohibition has failed. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. It makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. Drug policy reform may send the wrong message to children, but I like to think the children are more important than the message. Robert Sharpe Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.