Fewer people would smoke pot if it were legal

Prohibitionists who want to keep cannabis illegal say that if you legalize it usage will go up. But they don't have any facts to support that position, and news writers never seem to call them on it ("Panel: Legalization of pot in 1 state risks ripple effect," July 18).

The fact is that in countries like the Netherlands, where cannabis is much more readily available than it is here, usage rates among all age groups are much lower than in the U.S. or any other country that still supports prohibition.

One reason for this seeming inconsistency may be that as long as cannabis is illegal, those promoting its use have an interest in selling more of it at inflated prices. Another possible explanation is the forbidden fruit syndrome: When cannabis is legalized, it will likely become boring to teenagers, who will find some other activity that aggravates their parents more.

In any case, the reduction of violent crime along the Mexican border alone would offset any negatives arising from legalization.

Dave Lane, Santa Cruz, Calif.

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