Pubdate: Tue, 12 Aug 2014
Source: Standard-Times (New Bedford, MA)
Copyright: 2014 South Coast Media Group
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding your thoughtful July 31 editorial ("Our View: Debate on 
marijuana prohibition needs to face reality"), don't be fooled by the 
kinder, gentler drug war promoted by Smart Approaches to Marijuana. 
They are seeking to expand the drug war by marrying the for-profit 
prison industry to for-profit treatment providers. There is an unmet 
need for substance abuse treatment throughout the nation. Problem 
drug users motivated to quit cannot get help when they need it. No 
one benefits when scarce treatment slots are filled with casual 
marijuana users. Just as adults who drink an occasional glass of wine 
don't need substance abuse treatment, the vast majority of marijuana 
users don't either.

Many marijuana smokers have turned their lives around by putting down 
the bottle and picking up the marijuana pipe. These former alcoholics 
no longer wake up with debilitating hangovers. Because they have 
chosen a safer alternative to alcohol, they now lead productive 
lives. Yes, some have substance abuse problems stemming from 
traumatic life experiences.

The last thing they need is Big Brother testing their bodily fluids 
and threatening jail time. Forcing pot smokers to relapse into 
alcoholism is not a good use of tax dollars. The war on marijuana is 
a cultural inquisition, not an evidence-based public health campaign.

Robert Sharpe, MPA Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy Washington, D.C.
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