The new laws of Colorado and Washington state do not simply decriminalize marijuana; they commercialize its production and sale, thus creating a major commercialized drug industry. These laws are explicitly modeled on the tobacco and alcohol industries — industries that make the bulk of their profits from substance abusers. Marijuana has 60 percent more cancer-causing agents than tobacco and stays in the body and brain 20 times longer than alcohol. There are overwhelming public health reasons to oppose legalization of marijuana.
The state laws fly in the face of established federal law and U.S. treaty obligations. The Justice Department, an ardent defender of federal preemption of conflicting state laws in other issues including immigration, has an obligation to stop this reckless “experiment” that violates federal and international law and threatens both public health and public safety.
Robert L. DuPont, Rockville
Peter Bensinger, Chicago
Robert L. DuPont was director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse from 1973 to 1978. Peter Bensinger was head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration from 1976 to 1981.