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Marijuana Bans Misguided


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To the editor,

If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be fully legal. ( "Brief halt OK on new medical pot facilities," Dec. 15 ). 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 if abused, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.

The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive at best. 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. Please consider this research:

United Nations drug stats: www.unodc.org/

Comparative analysis of U.S. vs. Dutch rates of drug use: www.drugwarfacts.org/thenethe.htm

The following Virginia Law Review article provides a good overview of the cultural roots of marijuana legislation: www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/Library/studies/vlr/vlrtoc.htm

Robert Sharpe

Common Sense for Drug Policy analyst

Arlington, Va.
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