Friday, October 24, 2003

Drug War: At DC subway stations and bus stops, a pro-marijuana advocacy group called Change the Climate has unleashed an ad campaign with posters that say "Enjoy Great Sex" then beckon lawmakers to "Legalize and Tax Marijuana". This has ticked off some members of Congress who believe it's wrong to promote drug use and sex in places where children could be present.

Fair enough. But this underscores how difficult it is to get people's attention to have a reasonable discussion about legalizing some drugs. It seems that when advocates try to present their side to Congress, lawmakers essentially close their eyes and plug their ears. U.S. Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. was quoted in the Washington Post during a debate about legalizing medicinal uses of marijuana in Washington, DC, saying this:

Where do you draw the line? If you say it's okay for D.C. to legalize marijuana, then what's next? Legalizing cocaine? Or heroin? Or perhaps rape and murder?
Such ill-informed arguments have dominated the debate on marijuana. Unfortunately, we have spent decades telling children that marijuana is as bad as cocaine, heroin, rape, and even murder. Once they see that their pot-experimenting friends don't turn out like the characters on those public-service videos, children learn not to trust their parents or authorities who spread lies about marijuana.

There are dangers to smoking pot, but less so than drinking alcohol. Spending money to fight drug trafficking and sending marijuana smokers to jail and giving them a criminal record is not sound policy.

Should we tax and regulate marijuana instead? Perhaps. Should we do what Canada is considering and decriminalize it to the extent that getting caught with a small amount is no more of an infraction than a speeding ticket? That would be a reasonable approach. Should we educate people on the real dangers of smoking pot, explaining that it's safe in moderation? Most definitely.

The public needs to get informed about the realities of marijuana. Just take the time and read these websites, and see what you learn:

Change the Climate facts page

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Drug Policy Forum of Texas


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