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News Opinion Readers Respond

Legalization is the best way to reduce the risks of pot [Letter]

In response to Nancy Starr's recent letter, those of us who advocate for a regulated, aboveboard cannabis market do not argue that the use of marijuana by adults is not without potential risks or that it cannot be abused by some people ("Don't legalize pot," Nov. 30).

But acknowledging the potential risks does not justify the substance's continued criminalization. In fact, just the opposite is true.

There are numerous adverse health consequences associated with alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, all of which are far more dangerous and costlier to society than cannabis.

It is precisely because of these consequences that such products are legally regulated and their use is restricted to specified consumers and settings.

Similarly, a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and sale of cannabis to adults, and restricts its use among young people, is the best way to reduce the risks associated with the plant's use — especially when coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about cannabis' potential harms.

By contrast, the current criminalization of cannabis only compounds these risks.

Paul Armentano, Washington, D.C.

The writer is deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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