Kudos to the Washington City Paper for covering all sides of the medical-marijuana debate in the article on the seemingly endless saga of Initiative 59 (“Herbal Remedy,” 1/4). But the otherwise balanced article on the shameful suppression of democracy in the District contained one glaring error. The article claimed marijuana smoke is as dangerous as tobacco smoke and that “some experts say it causes even more damage.” The so-called government “experts” who dictate drug policy are perhaps the least qualified people in the world to make claims about marijuana.

The emphasis on “drug-free” pasts in government hiring, especially as it relates to drug enforcement, ensures complete ignorance of the subject matter on the part of drug warriors. Anyone interested in learning about the effects of marijuana would be wise to consult with someone who has actually smoked it, not hacks paid to demonize it. The vast majority of pot smokers use the substance responsibly, infrequently, and in small quantities. There is simply no comparison between a few puffs of pot on a Saturday night and the lung damage caused by a pack-a-day nicotine addiction.

The inherent dishonesty of drug warriors is revealed by the manner in which they rail about both alleged lung damage and new potent strains of marijuana that are far stronger than ’60s weed. Both weak and strong marijuana will yield the desired result; the potent pot requires significantly less smoke inhalation. The stronger weed is a healthier alternative.

Millions of mainstream Americans prefer marijuana to martinis, with good reason. Anyone who has experimented with both drugs knows that alcohol is far more dangerous. Chronic boozers risk painful hangovers, loss of basic bodily functions, and even death. Pot smokers who overindulge risk wanting to take a nap. The drug war is not a concerted effort to protect the health of Americans so much as an intergenerational culture war.

Nontraditional drugs such as marijuana represent the counterculture of the ’60s to reactionaries like Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.). Alcohol and tobacco are by far the deadliest recreational drugs, yet you won’t hear Barr claiming that an arrest and criminal record would somehow benefit drinkers and smokers. The insane American Inquisition, otherwise known as the war on some drugs, destroys far more lives than drugs ever could. This country cannot afford to continue subsidizing the prejudices of cultural warriors like Barr to the tune of $50 billion annually.

Cathedral Heights