Pubdate: Wed, 29 Feb 2012 Source: Daily News, The (Newburyport, MA) Copyright: 2012 Eagle Tribune Publishing Company Contact: http://drugsense.org/url/k3oQxseR Website: http://www.newburyportnews.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/693 Authors: Robert Sharpe MARIJUANA PROHIBITION HAS FAILED 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 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 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, D.C.