- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 9, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Armstrong Williams confuses the impact of drug-law enforcement with the effects of marijuana in his latest Op-Ed column (“California doping our youths,” Nation, Monday).

Record numbers of citizens arrested for marijuana possession have been forced into treatment by the criminal justice system. Drug warriors distort treatment statistics to claim that marijuana is “addictive.” The George W. Bush administration employed this ruse, and President Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy is perpetuating it. So much for change.

Zero-tolerance drug laws do not distinguish between occasional use and chronic abuse. The coercion of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis into taxpayer-funded treatment centers says a lot about the government’s priorities but nothing about the relative harms of marijuana.

Canada offers a valuable example. After months of exhaustive research, the Canadian Senate concluded in 2002 that marijuana is relatively harmless, that its prohibition contributes to organized crime and that law enforcement efforts have little impact on patterns of use. In the words of Quebec Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin, “Scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue.”

ROBERT SHARPE

Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington

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