Kudos to Ira Kortum for an excellent Feb. 28th column on Attorney General John Ashcroft’s marijuana jihad. While the nation is under high alert for terrorism, Ashcroft orders the Department of Justice to focus their limitedresources on a nationwide hunt for bongs. The drug war is in large part a war against marijuana, by far the most popular illicit drug. Marijuanaprohibition has done little other than burden millions of otherwiselaw-abiding citizens with criminal records.
The University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Study reports thatlifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. 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. Unlikealcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor doesit share the addictive properties of tobacco.
The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared tothe long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to misguided reactionaries in Congress intenton legislating their version of morality. In subsidizing the prejudices ofculture warriors, the U.S. government is subsidizing organized crime. Thedrug war’s distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make an easilygrown weed literally worth its weight in gold.
The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels andshameless tough-on-drugs politicians who’ve built careers on confusing drugprohibition’s collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The biglosers in this battle are the American taxpayers deluded into believing biggovernment is the appropriate response to non-traditional consensual vices.
Students who want to end the intergenerational culture war otherwise knownas the war on some drugs should contact Students for Sensible Drug Policy atwww.ssdp.org.
The results of a comparative study of European and U.S. rates of drug use can be found at: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/espad_pr.pdf
*MTF is funded by the U.S. government
Robert Sharpe, MPA
Drug Policy Alliance