Pubdate: Tue, 31 Dec 2013
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Robert Sharpe
Author: Robert Sharpe


In Sunday's Sun-Times, columnist Linda Chavez makes the common mistake
of assuming that marijuana prohibition deters use. The United States
has double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands where
marijuana is legally available. Spain legalized personal use
cultivation and has lower rates of marijuana use than the U.S.
Portugal decriminalized all drugs including heroin and cocaine and
still has lower rates of marijuana use than the U.S. If anything,
marijuana prohibition increases use by creating forbidden fruit
appeal. Thanks to health education, legal tobacco use has declined
considerably, without any need to criminalize smokers or imprison
tobacco farmers. This drop in the use of one of the most addictive
drugs available has occurred despite widespread tobacco

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado will raise new tax revenue,
provide consumers with a safer alternative to alcohol, and close the
gateway to hard drugs by taking marijuana distribution out of the
hands of violent drug cartels. But it won't likely impact rates of
marijuana use. There is no correlation between criminal penalties and
rates of use. Using the criminal justice system to destroy the lives
of adult marijuana consumers doesn't protect children, it just puts
them in foster care.

Robert Sharpe Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy
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