Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Frontline: Marijuana needs legalization, regulation

According to a recent Associated Press article, gang-controlled
marijuana farms are increasing in number and sophistication throughout
the U.S.

The March 1 article states that Mexican gangs have taken over these mass
marijuana-growing operations. It also states the gangs are extorting and
threatening migrant laborers in order to secure a cheap labor force.

There are two major problems with this article. First, it throws down
the broad accusation that Mexican gangs are solely responsible for the
increase in the marijuana trade. It fails to examine any other groups
involved in marijuana drug-trafficking. Secondly, it fails to propose
any solutions to an increase in drug trafficking.

It seems like a simple fix is staring policy makers in the face. If
there is no profit in growing and selling marijuana, would anyone set up
acres of farm in remote forests in order to grow it? If marijuana was
legalized and regulated, the drug trade would take a serious hit and
lose much of its destructive influence.

Legalizing marijuana would allow state governments to set taxes on its
sale, just like alcohol and tobacco. Thus instead of spending money on
drug enforcement policies specific to marijuana, governments would
actually be able to generate revenue.

For that matter, it makes little sense that alcohol and tobacco should
be legal when both have negative health effects and are addictive
substances. Marijuana has health concerns associated with it, of course,
but are they truly more significant than the health concerns of binge
drinking and nicotine addiction?

Marijuana should be legalized because it would also decrease the crime
and extortion of migrant workers currently associated with the drug
trafficking business. If simple regulations such as setting an age limit
of 18 years old and prohibiting driving and operating heavy machinery
under the influence were enacted, marijuana would be on the same
playing field as alcohol and tobacco, right where it belongs.

If the state truly wants to end organized crime surrounding marijuana,
it should move control of the drug into their own hands instead of
waging a futile "war" to remove it from the landscape.

Sensible Washington, an advocacy group, is currently circulating a
petition in support of a state initiative to legalize marijuana. Please,
sign and support.

The Editorial Board is comprised of Editor in Chief Nicholas Johnson,
Managing Editor Katie Greene and Opinion Editor Tristan Hiegler.

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