Thank you for covering both sides of the marijuana debate in your Nov. 21 article. It’s important to note that punitive marijuana laws have little, if any, deterrent value. The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any European country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco.
The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to misguided reactionaries in Congress intent on legislating their version of morality. In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors the government is inadvertently subsidizing organized crime. The drug war’s distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make an easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold.
The only clear winners in the war on some drugs are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who’ve built careers on confusing drug prohibition’s collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The big losers in this battle are the American taxpayers who have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices. Students interested in helping reform drug laws should contact Students for Sensible Drug Policy at www.ssdp.org.
Robert Sharpe, M.P.A.
Drug Policy Alliance