We as a society need to wake up to what America's number one drug problem truly is: Alcohol.

It is unquestionably the number one cause of our society's woes. It kills people and destroys families on a daily basis. Yet it is legal. Prohibition did nothing to stop its use and was wisely repealed (and taxed instead) because law enforcement could not stop the peoples will to use this drug. Only education and personal responsibility can stem the tide of DUIs, traffic fatalities, violence, illness and domestic collapse caused by alcohol.

Marijuana was made illegal in the 1940s ...because it was the andquot;menace to societyandquot; truthless propaganda from the federal government. It was outlawed as a means to stem the tide of Mexican immigrants taking agriculture and oil field jobs in the South who used marijuana to relax after work.

The medical community, including the Surgeon General, strongly opposed the ban at the time but were completely ignored. Pot continued to be used after becoming illegal mainly in minority communities. Not until its widespread use in the andquot;counter cultureandquot; of the 1960s did it become an issue in the public eye. Time has shown that the only real menace of marijuana is it's illegality.

It costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year in the legal system and in the futile efforts our governments use to andquot;eradicateandquot; it. It also ruins lives with criminal records for something which, by common sense, should not stand as illegal, while we condone the use of alcohol in our society.

I don't believe making pot legal for the reason of taxation is a noble cause. I think our country has far greater needs for the money we are losing to the un-winnable effort to eradicate its use. Valuable law enforcement time is also taken away from fighting serious crimes such as the manufacture and sale of methamphetamines.

As for pot being a gateway drug, that simply isn't true. Pot is more likely to cause caution and paranoia in a user than the inhibition to try new things that is an earmark of alcohol. For the last several years the use of pot by school age children has declined while the truly dangerous abuse of prescription drugs and methis a fast-growing problem. The only thing that's going to keep young people away from dangerous drugs (legal or illegal) is good parenting which should have the hallmark of no underage drinking. Period.

Reggie Thomson

Crescent City