I was amazed in watching the gubernatorial debate when Attorney General Douglas Gansler said marijuana had been illegal for hundreds of years ("Debate: Round 1," May 8). The actual number is less than 100. Various forms of regulation had grown up in the states from the late 19th century, but federal law only restricted it from 1937. To quote Wikipedia, "The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of cannabis illegal throughout the United States under federal law, excluding medical and industrial uses, through imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp."

Surely a lawyer talking about public policy ought to be able to talk a little more responsibly. The criminalization of marijuana was a bad policy that has caused this country much trouble and ought to be reversed. Earlier efforts at regulation were imperfect, but greater scientific knowledge of the substance should help make future regulation more focused and effective. We should be giving this issue serious consideration. False melodramatic references to "hundreds of years" contribute nothing useful to the discussion.

Katharine W. Rylaarsdam

-
To respond to this letter, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.