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Is drug harmless? No. Is it high time we legalized it? Yes.

RE “REEFER madness” by Lawrence Harmon (Op-ed, Oct. 13): Yes, legalization of medical marijuana is probably an early step toward legalization. And it’s about time.

Is marijuana harmless? No. But the pertinent question to ask is whether it is more dangerous than alcohol or cigarettes, which are both legal. I believe it is not, and I find arguments to the contrary unconvincing. Thousands of lives are ruined by abuse of alcohol and tobacco, but we have decided as a society that these are tolerable risks.

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We experimented with the prohibition of alcohol, with disastrous results. The growth of organized crime in this country was partly fueled by the alcohol business at a time when legitimate businesses were excluded from the trade.

The unnecessary ban on marijuana similarly fuels a criminal underground that supplies a consumer demand, which could otherwise be satisfied by legitimate, taxpaying businesses that generally refrain from killing their competitors.

Donald G. Ross

North Andover

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