So Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown believes that "marijuana is a gateway drug." There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What's really needed is a regulated market with age controls.
Separating the hard and soft drug markets is critical. As long as marijuana distribution remains in the hands of organized crime, consumers will continue to come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like methamphetamine. This "gateway" is the direct result of a fundamentally flawed policy.
Given that marijuana is arguably safer than legal alcohol – the plant has never been shown to cause an overdose death – it makes no sense to waste tax dollars on failed policies that finance organized crime and facilitate the use of hard drugs. The decision by Denver voters to legalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana is a step in the right direction.
MPA Policy Analyst Common Sense for Drug Policy