Pubdate: Tue, 20 Nov 2012
Source: Buffalo News (NY)
Copyright: 2012 The Buffalo News
Author: Robert Sharpe


I am writing in regard to Donn Esmonde's Nov. 10 column, "It's high 
time we started legalizing pot."

If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize Mexican drug 
cartels, prohibition is a success. The drug war distorts 
supply-and-demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees. 
There is a reason you don't see drug cartels sneaking into national 
forests to cultivate tomatoes and cucumbers. They cannot compete with 
legitimate farmers.

If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to deter use, prohibition is 
a failure. The United States has double the rate of use as the 
Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. Spain legalized 
personal use cultivation and has lower rates of use. Portugal 
decriminalized all drugs and still has lower rates of use than the 
United States. If anything, marijuana prohibition increases use by 
creating forbidden fruit appeal.

Thanks to public education, tobacco use has declined, without any 
need to criminalize smokers or imprison farmers. This drop in the use 
of one of the most addictive drugs available occurred despite 
widespread tobacco availability. The only clear winners in the war on 
marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians 
who have built careers confusing the drug war's tremendous collateral 
damage with a plant.

Robert Sharpe Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom