Pubdate: Wed, 23 Feb 2011
Source: Kamloops This Week (CN BC)
Copyright: 2011 Kamloops This Week
Author: Robert Sharpe



Kudos to a remarkably balanced Mental Health Matters column 
('Downside of smoking pot,' Feb. 18):

That marijuana can be harmful if abused is not subject to debate.

The risk is especially high for people with a family history of 
schizophrenia. For the vast majority of marijuana users, the bigger 
risk is the criminal-justice system.

Rather than seek to find harm in a relatively harmless plant, I'd 
like to see researchers study the efficacy of criminal records as 
health interventions.

We know they don't work as deterrents.

The United States has double the rate of marijuana use as the 
Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available.

Medical research is unfortunately used to justify criminalizing 
citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.

Doctors have an ethical responsibility to qualify their findings.

The "first, do no harm" approach is applicable to drug policy.

If criminal records are effective health interventions, perhaps 
researchers can prove their efficacy and ultimately broaden their application.

That way, tobacco smokers, alcoholics and people with poor diets can 
all benefit from arrests and criminal records.

For their own good, of course.

Robert Sharpe

policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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