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November 20, 2014

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letter to the editor:

It’s really a war on marijuana

Regarding Erin Ryan’s July 7 column, “A child of the ’80s grapples with the failures of the ‘war on drugs,’” the drug war is largely a war on marijuana consumers.

Marijuana is by far the most popular illicit drug. In 2012, there were 749,825 marijuana arrests in the United States, almost 90 percent for simple possession.

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. If the goal is to deter use, marijuana prohibition is a catastrophic failure. The United States has almost 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 Colorado and Washington, but throughout the nation, it’s time to stop the pointless arrests and instead tax legal marijuana.

The writer is a policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug Policy

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