Regarding your June 21 editorial, if health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal and there would be no medical marijuana debate. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Marijuana can be harmful, but jail cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents.
The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican immigration during the early 1900s, despite opposition from the American Medical Association. Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages have been counterproductive. Americans did not even begin to smoke pot in significant numbers until our federal government began funding reefer madness propaganda.
Marijuana prohibition has clearly failed as a deterrent. The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to adults. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing the drug war's tremendous collateral damage with a comparatively harmless plant.
ROBERT SHARPE, MPA
Common Sense for Drug Policy
P.O. Box 59181
Washington, DC 20012