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letters | Moving toward legalization

Eased policy on marijuana is long overdue

A woman lit up on opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club, in Denver last New Year’s Eve. Last fall voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana. This month Attorney General Eric Holder eased US enforcement policy.

Brennan Linsley/Associated Press/File 2012

A woman lit up on opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club, in Denver last New Year’s Eve. Last fall voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana. This month Attorney General Eric Holder eased US enforcement policy.

Regarding Tom Keane’s Sept. 8 op-ed column “The drug divide”: The Obama administration’s green light for state-level marijuana regulation is long overdue. The days when our federal government can get away with confusing the drug war’s tremendous collateral damage with a comparatively harmless plant are coming to an end.

If the goal of marijuana prohibition is to subsidize violent drug cartels, prohibition is a grand success. The drug war distorts supply and demand dynamics so that big money grows on little trees.

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If the goal is to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a catastrophic failure. The United States has double the rate of marijuana use as the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal.

The criminalization of Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis has no basis in science. The war on marijuana consumers is a failed cultural inquisition, not an evidence-based public health campaign.

Not just in Washington and Colorado but throughout the nation, it’s time to stop the pointless arrests and instead tax legal marijuana.

Robert Sharpe

Policy analyst

Common Sense for Drug Policy

Arlington, Va.

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