Power puffs

Letters to the Boston editor, July 24, 2009

Regarding “Weed Picking Up Speed”: if health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal. Unlike alcohol, marijuana has never been shown to cause an overdose death, nor does it share the addictive properties of tobacco. Like any drug, marijuana can be harmful if abused, 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, at best. Most white Americans did not even begin to smoke pot until a soon-to-be entrenched federal bureaucracy began funding reefer-madness propaganda.

Marijuana prohibition has failed miserably as a deterrent. The US has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to adults over 18. 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 collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant.

Robert Sharpe
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, Dc

The word “cannabis” appears only once in the Controlled Substances Act, in the definition of marijuana. Rather than filing two bills seeking decriminalization, Representative Barney Frank could file one bill to simplify the definition of the racist term “marihuana,” then let the states regulate it.

Just change the definition from this: “The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not . . .” to this: “The term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L.”

Then, the public use of marijuana (the smoke) stays prohibited, but cannabis (the plant, including its unsmoked parts and vapors) would be unscheduled and legal. This would give people a chance to find out how useful cannabis really is.

The states themselves could do this, too.

Jack Elam
Houston, Texas

Cut and run from the same cloth?
In your editorial “Robert McNamara, RIP,” you imply a parallel between Iraq and Vietnam. The real problem with withdrawing from Vietnam was our domestic issues. We don’t have that kind of domestic situation in regard to Iraq or Afghanistan. (Plus, whatever you think about Obama, it’s pretty clear he’s no Nixon, who demanded “peace with honor.”)

Nonetheless, the question of how we should get out of these conflicts is a serious one. Certainly, we need smart rather than speedy withdrawals. Since “the surge” we’ve smartened up to the guerrilla issue in Iraq and things have improved.

Matt Searles

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