Newsbrief: Denver Post Says Legalize It 9/10/04

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In an editorial last Sunday, Colorado's largest and most influential newspaper has called for the legalization of marijuana, a radical review of the nation's drug laws, and an end to mandatory minimum sentences. The Denver Post cited the dissent of prominent conservatives such as William Buckley from the war on drugs, but was apparently heavily influenced by a recent compilation of essays about the futility of prohibition, "The New Prohibition," edited by Colorado's San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters, with a heavy representation from other Coloradans as well. (The book also includes an essay from DRCNet executive director Dave Borden. Visit to read our book review.)

"The first step toward a rational drug policy," the editorial said, "is to legalize, regulate and heavily tax the sale of marijuana -- with the taxes earmarked to fund treatment programs for victims of truly dangerous drugs." But, the Post noted, the state of Colorado has already moved about as far as it can on its own, with possession of less than an ounce considered a petty offense with a maximum $100 fine. Colorado voters have also approved of medical marijuana, the newspaper continued, "with state law being followed about as well as a surly federal government will permit."

Thus, opined the Post, "because of the federal government's preemptive authority, Colorado cannot take the final step of legalizing and regulating marijuana on its own. It is time for Congress and the president to call a cease-fire in what has become not a war on drugs but a war on people who use drugs."

The war on drugs is "long and fruitless," and the costs, human and economic, are too high, the editorial continued. While noting that progressives, libertarians, and others oppose drug prohibition, the Post was downright enthralled at the notion of conservatives such as Buckley joining the chorus. In fact, it cited Buckley's June 29 National Review article supporting the proposition that "the government should treat marijuana more or less the same way it treats alcohol: It should regulate it, control it, tax it, and make it illegal only for children."

We should adjust the way we deal with other drugs as well, the Post argued. "A reassessment of the drug war should include an evaluation of the effects of each drug on users and adjusting the legal status of that drug accordingly," the paper suggested. "Drug policy should then be placed on a continuum ranging from continued prohibition to outright legalization." Methamphetamine should remain a proscribed substance in the Post's view.

As for federal mandatory minimum drug sentences, the Post calls them simply "a wellspring of injustice" and urges "that such laws be changed to restore reasonable discretion to federal judges in meting out sentences in drug cases."

Read the editorial, "It's Time to Rethink and Reform Drug Laws," in full at,1413,36~417~2376803,00.html online.

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Issue #353, 9/10/04 They're Back! Two DEA Raids on California Medical Marijuana Operations in Two Weeks | Push for Medical Marijuana Legislation Underway in New Jersey | CRCM Makes Final Court Bid to Get Marijuana Regulation Initiative on Nevada Ballot | DRCNet Book Review: "My Cocaine Museum," by Michael Taussig (2004, University of Chicago Press, 360 pp., $22.50 HB) | Action Alert: Judiciary Committee Taking Up HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Pittsburgh Gives Preliminary Okay to Continuing Needle Exchange Program | Newsbrief: German Drug Deaths Down, Government Cites Harm Reduction Policies | Newsbrief: Initiative Fails to Make Ballot in Arkansas, Another Gets Kicked Off Ballot in Tallahassee | Newsbrief: MPP Sues Minneapolis over Medical Marijuana Ballot Access | Newsbrief: Denver Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: Canada's National Post Says Legalize It | Newsbrief: US and Philippines in Joint "Narcoterrorism" Exercises | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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