Pubdate: Sun, 27 Mar 2011
Source: San Angelo Standard-Times (TX)
Copyright: 2011 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding Johnny Hickman's Viewpoints column Thursday, the drug war is
largely a war on marijuana smokers.

In 2009, there were 858,405 marijuana arrests in the United States,
almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when state and
local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers,
this country continues to spend enormous public resources
criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis.

The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower
rates of use.

The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where
marijuana is legally available. Decriminalization is a long overdue
step in the right direction.

Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the drug war obsolete. As
long as organized crime controls distribution, marijuana consumers
will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like
methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result
of marijuana prohibition.

Robert Sharpe, policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy,
Arlington, Va.  
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