If marijuana is too dangerous, what about alcohol?

February 16, 2011

Mike Gimbel, in his letter to the editor ("As dangers become clear, states shy away from medical marijuana," Feb. 15), inadvertently used the outmoded and long discredited "Reefer Madness" model in citing "two new reports" suggesting the dangers of marijuana. Did it ever occur to Mr. Gimbel that alcohol abuse also causes psychosis? Is he ignorant of the damage done to individuals and society from alcohol every year? And I'm not just referring to traffic accidents and deaths from drunk driving. I'm also referring to the many health risks associated with alcohol use. And then there's the barroom brawls and domestic violence and broken families caused by alcohol use. I've never heard of anyone beating their wives and kids from smoking marijuana. I also never hear any of the anti-marijuana crowd clamoring for alcohol prohibition, in spite of the fact that their stated reasons for fearing marijuana are even more applicable to alcohol.

But, of course, anyone would look foolish in clamoring for a ban on alcohol because it was already tried and not only did it miserably fail, it created an entirely new class of criminal: the gangster, and vast criminal empires were built virtually overnight with all the attendant violence and corruption that goes hand-in-hand with the prohibition of something the public wants, just like the drug empires that were built on the ashes of alcohol prohibition.

So what makes anyone think that the drug war, with all its collateral damage, is somehow worth pursuing, when it has succeeded only in ruining lives, overcrowding our prisons and clogging our court dockets and criminalizing otherwise hard-working, law abiding citizens? This is what we're spending billions of dollars to accomplish?

Everyone, especially our legislators, needs to look at all facets of the issue and not just questionable, premature "new studies" that reflect the agendas of those funding the studies and feed the extant prejudices and fears of certain segments of the public.

And stop using outmoded models, such as "Reefer Madness," in attempting to inform the public about real or imagined bogeymen. If our public officials would stop exaggerating the dangers of marijuana, our young people would be more willing to believe them when warned of the dangers of "hard" drugs.

If a less dangerous substance is banned because of its risks, then the more dangerous substances should also be banned, or it should all be legalized and regulated, like the drugs being pushed on us every day over the television and radio, Internet and print publications.

Either way, we all need to stop being hypocrites on the marijuana issue.

Charles Hilton, Baltimore

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