As Neill Franklin, the retired Maryland state trooper, has observed, drug use can often lead to crimes of all sorts ("Former cop is 'linchpin' of campaign to legalize marijuana," Feb. 3).

But we need not legitimize its use. Alcohol, an addictive drug, is a depressant that can affect users in ways similar to marijuana. With marijuana, the perception of time is altered, and the drug, like alcohol, slows our reflexes and thought processes.

Drug usage is on a continuum, so just because someone drinks alcohol, it doesn't make them an alcoholic even though it certainly can lead to it. It's like saying that if I use a little bit of arsenic, I won't be poisoned. Let's not minimize the behaviors that often result from drug abuse.

It also seems as though Mr. Franklin wants to keep black users out of jail. But they're in jail because of their behavior, not their race.

What we need to do is teach people how to meet their needs in less costly and damaging ways.

Lynne Selznick, Baltimore

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