Pubdate: Wed, 02 May 2012
Source: Bakersfield Californian, The (CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Bakersfield Californian
Author: Robert Sharpe


If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms,
marijuana would be fully legal and there would be no medical marijuana
debate ("Regulate medical cannabis at state level," April 21). Unlike
alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death,
nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Marijuana can
be harmful, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions
and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration
during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical
Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages
have been counterproductive.

White Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be
entrenched federal bureaucracy began funding reefer madness propaganda.

Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. The U.S.
has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where
marijuana is legally available to adults.

The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and
shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing
the drug war's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

This Virginia Law Review article provides a good overview of the
cultural roots of marijuana legislation:

Robert Sharpe

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, D.C.
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