Pubdate: Wed, 29 Feb 2012
Source: Daily News, The (Newburyport, MA)
Copyright: 2012 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company
Authors: Robert Sharpe


There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and
protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization as approved by
Massachusetts voters in 2008 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 enforceable
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
and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana

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 marijuana
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 Policy analyst, Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington,