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Education works better than jail 

Palm Harbor, Fla.

 Matt Fountain (“Kicking it,” Jan. 21) reported that fewer than half as many 12th graders smoke cigarettes daily now as the number who smoked in 1997. That’s according to the NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future study. I dug into the study myself and found that daily marijuana smoking, by contrast, has changed little. Odd, I thought.

 As I dug deeper, I found that “Current Use” (at least once in the past 30 days) is the important metric of a drug-free society. Among 12th graders, current use of cigarettes has dropped rapidly and is now tied at 20 percent with marijuana, which changes little. Also odd, I thought, because marijuana smokers risk a felony record unless they agree to snitch on others.

 Education and candor seem to be more effective than the criminal law in reducing drug use. Our Beltway legislators should take note.

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