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Letters to the Pilot

Monday, December 30, 2002

War on drugs

hasn't worked

TO THE EDITOR:

The article [on legalization of marijuana] presented is based on misperceptions of what's happening in Europe. In the Netherlands for example, the use of marijuana among youth is about half of what it is in the United States.

The notion that when drug laws are made a "medical problem" and not a "criminal problem" cause enormous addictions is just not the case. This is why throughout Europe they are taking the problem out of the criminal element and dealing with it as a social problem. When it comes to the economic cost of how to deal with the problem, consider this: The United States spends $50 billion on the war on drugs. No other country in the world comes close to what we spend on enforcement. If we were to spend that money on prevention and treatment our drug problem would diminish.

We put more people in prison than any other developed nation. We have 25 percent of the world's prison population, while we only have 5 percent of the world's population. We currently put more money towards the prison system than we do education. I myself do not use drugs, including alcohol or tobacco, and think that it is a "bad choice" but to wage war on people who do make "bad choices" is insane.

Chad Wasserman,

Via Internet

No addiction

to 'soft' drug?

TO THE EDITOR:

First of all I would like to say that whoever reported this story should find more informed and less ignorant people. Marijuana is NOT physically addictive. I do not doubt that there are many people that have a psychological addiction to the drug, but much like alcohol it can be dealt with and since it's not as addictive as alcohol can be it would most likely be somewhat easier.

Secondly, the comment about marijuana being a drug and ignoring the difference between hard and soft drugs is just ignorant. There is a huge difference between the two, which would be too long to explain. Marijuana is a soft drug that is not addictive so much like caffeine it can be dealt with on a personal basis and if treated responsibly does not pose a serious threat the society. Propaganda comments like these are why I am so angry with America's obvious propaganda "war on drugs" making marijuana illegal, just as in the past with alcohol, has shown that nothing can be done about and legalizing it just costs the taxpayers money and will never succeed.

Jayson Matchen,

Via Internet

Re-examine

drug policy

TO THE EDITOR:

Storm Lake Public Safety Director Mark Prosser is either sadly misinformed or he is intentionally misleading the public about the effects of decriminalization of marijuana in Europe. Contrary to his claims, government-funded studies show that European countries that have decriminalized marijuana have consistently lower rates of both marijuana use and hard drug use than the U.S..

In the Netherlands, for example, sale and possession of small amounts of marijuana have been officially tolerated since the 1970s. According to the most recent figures, 20 percent of Dutch tenth graders have tried marijuana, compared to 37.8 percent in the U.S. And separating marijuana from the hard drug trade has cut heroin use dramatically: In the Netherlands, 0.3 percent of the population has ever used heroin. In the U.S. it's 1.4 percent.

As a society, we urgently need an honest, searching examination of our anti-drug policies. But it's hard to have an honest discussion when one side refuses to face the facts and consistently puts out disinformation.

Bruce Mirken,

Marijuana Policy Project

Washington D.C.

'Lying' on drugs

TO THE EDITOR:

It's amazing that officials in Iowa are so far behind the times that they are ignorant of the benefits of medical marijuana. Maybe a few of them or their loved ones will have to come down with serious carcinomas that require relief from the chemotherapy to tell the truth.

Aside from the medical uses there is another very good reason to legalize marijuana - all of the reasons given for pot prohibition by Mary Sloan and the rest of Iowa's drug crusaders are complete lies. That's why ... Sloan dares suggest that cannabis is addictive.

Iowa's drug warriors base their policies on absurd fictions like:

"The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races. [It] influences Negroes to to look at white people in the eye, step on white men's shadows and look at a white woman twice" (Hearst newspapers nationwide, 1934).

"Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death... [Smoking] one [marijuana] cigarette might develop a homicidal mania, probably to kill his brother." (-1937 Legislative Testimony To Outlaw Marijuana).

The lies used to outlaw marijuana are so ridiculous that the proper response to the term "marijuana crime" would be gales of hilarious laughter aimed at Mary Sloan, Mark Prosser and any other proponents of marijuana prohibition, except for the fact that putting people in jail for "Reefer Madness" is no joke.

There was never any good reason to outlaw marijuana in 1937 and there is no good reason now.

Redford Givens,

San Francisco