Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the debate over whether or not to legalize marijuana.
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Would legalization of marijuana take the violence out of the Mexican drug war? Absolutely. Take a look at Portugal's drug laws. There aren't any – and guess what? Violent crime has taken a dramatic nose dive there. Prohibition keeps the price of drugs artificially high. When the price is high, there is more at stake. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that greed is directly proportional to violence.Skip to next paragraph
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OK, so marijuana isn't harmless and legalization would bring on some knotty problems. But we have to admit that the "war on drugs" is over. Drugs won.
Prohibition did not work. Since it ended, the per capita consumption of alcohol has decreased with great regularity. Ditto for the consumption of legal tobacco products. Yet the demand for illegal drugs seems boundless.
We need to stop considering those who use drugs to be criminals and start treating them as sick individuals who need treatment. We need to control the market for drugs in order to put the drug gangs out of business. The illegal drug culture, like the illegal alcohol culture during the Prohibition era, is a major source of corruption in the US, as well as other countries. Enough already!
Theodore S. Arrington, PhD
Seems to me that there is an easy answer to the marijuana issue. There are apparently hazards and costs to legalizing it and making it a "normal" part of society. There are also problems in making usage a criminal offense.
Perhaps there is a middle ground. Perhaps it could be decriminalized federally, but usage and possession could become a violation. The monetary penalty could be a particularly onerous amount, so it would always sting when someone is busted. A less harmful penalty is more enforceable, the money is an incentive for enforcement, and consistent enforcement, with a painful but short-lived penalty, is a more effective deterrent. A "sin tax" by penalty, if you will, rather than commerce.
It is within your legal rights to choose whether or not to use alcohol and tobacco in your pursuit of happiness; prudent discernment and experience may dictate a modicum of moderation for some, while others choose to live a life devoid of such things. The beauty of a free nation lies in being able to make that personal choice – and not have it dictated by others.
The fact is, criminalizing marijuana has not made it unavailable to young people. Just as criminalizing alcohol added a layer of violence and crime in the 1930s, so has criminalizing all drugs.
What your editorial fails to consider is that legalizing drugs could be done with many restrictions on age and access, while spending much of the revenue on treatment and education, rather than spending tax money on policing and prisons.
There will always be a market for these substances. Let's spend our resources on education, treatment, and creating other opportunities for young people.
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