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Letters 8/11/08

- August 11th, 2008
Legalize & tax pot
Speaking as a former federal law enforcement officer, a retired elementary school counselor, a taxpayer and most importantly, a parent, I would like to respond to a recent Express article, “The end of reefer madness?“
We can argue from now until Doomsday whether marijuana is a deadly gateway drug; a simple plant like any other, neither inherently good or evil; or a great boon to mankind given to us a loving creator. The true debate needs to be, is prohibition the best way to deal with the dangers, real or imagined, of marijuana?
Marijuana is here to stay, deeply ingrained in our society. Thinking we will ever achieve the utopian vision of a “marijuana-free society” is just so much wishful thinking. Seventy years after marijuana prohibition was first enacted and 35 years after President Nixon declared a “War on Drugs,” marijuana is cheaper, more potent, more prevalent and more available than ever before.
Prohibition takes all control over who manufactures and distributes marijuana and who it is sold to away from legitimate government oversight, and hands it over to criminal gangs. Marijuana prohibition means no control whatsoever. Marijuana dealers don’t ask underage children to show ID, just the cash.
Regardless of one’s opinion on the relative dangers of marijuana abuse, one thing we all ought to agree on is that prohibition is the worst scheme possible to control it. When our grandparents wisely abandoned alcohol prohibition, it wasn’t because they decided booze wasn’t so dangerous after all. Rather, they had the integrity to face the truth: prohibition was making the problem worse.
Marijuana prohibition is horribly expensive, costing the taxpayers of Michigan close to $200 million in police, court and jail costs alone. At the same time it deprives the State Treasury of hundreds of millions in potential tax revenues, makes criminals out of tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens, and opens the door to the steady erosion of our privacy and civil liberties. The only success of marijuana prohibition has been to guarantee life-time employment to those doing the prohibiting, and to make a few very bad people very rich.
Marijuana prohibition has been a dismal failure. A failure made even more glaring when compared to the sensible way we deal with alcohol and tobacco -- the two most deadly drugs in our society today. The solution is obvious. The only question is, do we have the courage to do it? Or are we doomed to another 35 years of failure?
Legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, so that we can finally control marijuana.

Greg Francisco • Paw Paw

End reefer madness
Thank you for your “voice of common sense” in your Random Thoughts article titled, “The end of reefer madness?”
While I may not agree with your statement about potent strains causing psychotic reactions (this study was disproved), I do agree with everything else that you wrote. You nailed it with your very first sentence! My body belongs to me! No one has a right to tell me what I can put into my body as long as I am hurting no one by doing it! The sooner that those who are supposed to represent us, and those that are supposed to ‘protect and serve‘ us get this, then maybe we can move on to more important things.
It might interest you to know that U.S. companies bought 92% of last year‘s Canadian hemp crop. That could have been money in our farmers‘ pockets, and yet, they all seem to be drunk on corn ethanol as the answer to our gas problems. What a shame, but then, it is hard to undo 71 years of reefer madness that seems to be alive and well yet today.
I hope and pray that before I leave this earth, we will finally “get it!” Until then, I will keep fighting, I will keep using cannabis, and I will continue to refuse to be treated like a criminal!
Change is a comin‘!

Rev. Steven B. Thompson, executive director, Michigan NORML

The difference
As a Democrat and a Christian I believe in mutual respect and compassion for all people and the environment. My Republican friends believe in Right to Life that ends at birth, whereas Democrats believe right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is intended for all life’s journey.
Instead of spending $12 billion per month on Bush’s Iraq War, killing people and creating more enemies, Democrats prefer to spend that same amount to provide a preschool through college education for every student insuring good jobs, health care, and a safe world in which to raise our children.
Instead of lobbyists and corporate money buying our president, legislators, and policies, we believe the people should decide and that every vote should count. Republicans use fear, attacks, and smears. Democrats talk about improving lives.

B.J. Christensen • Cedar

Correction
Robert Downes‘ article “The end of reefer madness“ stated: “Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) and co-sponsor Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas ) have... proposed ending federal penalties for Americans who possess fewer than 100 grams of marijuana, or a little less than a quarter ounce.”
I’m not sure where you got these numbers, but it’s mentioned in the article twice: 100 g = 3.52739 oz.
I’m assuming he meant a pound.

Bruno Ginieis • via email
 
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