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Regarding your Jan. 1 editorial, the drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, by far the most popular illicit drug. The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the United States than any European country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis. The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the long-term effects of criminal records. Unfortunately, marijuana represents the counterculture to many Americans.
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In subsidizing the prejudices of culture warriors, the U.S. government is subsidizing organized crime. The drug war's distortion of immutable laws of supply and demand make an easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold. The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless tough-on-drugs politicians who've built careers confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with a relatively harmless plant. The big losers in this battle are the taxpayers deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to nontraditional consensual vices.