Commentary: Why fight medical marijuana?

August 31, 2007

J. Michael Jones, Albuquerque Tribune (NM)

I am a retired deputy chief of police from Gainesville, Fla. My wife and I have lived in Taos for 10 years. I am a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

There have been front-page stories all over New Mexico about the attorney general saying the feds might arrest and prosecute Health Department employees who distribute medical marijuana. The production and distribution of marijuana is still a crime at the federal level, and that is something that state laws can't change, says Tom Riley, spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

How wise is it to maintain a status quo that wasted tens of billions of tax dollars each of the last 37 years? Fiscal responsibility is often not compatible with government actions, but to spend $1 trillion in about 40 years on a policy that was a failure before it was even implemented, with nothing positive - but plenty of negatives - to show for the money is criminal.

But the feds just will not stop: Your state legalized medical marijuana? That's too bad. We're going to use our limited resources and round up harmless distributors of medical pot while gangsters engage in running gunbattles endangering the lives of countless bystanders.

Apparently spending billions of tax dollars around the world in the war on drugs without any success just isn't enough. News articles recently announced that we'll be sending tens of millions to Mexico to help the country fight its war on drugs. The Mexican president is determined to send military units to fight the cartels.

Articles earlier this year reported on how many Mexican police officers had been corrupted by death threats and bribes. They also mentioned how corruption was spreading within the military units being sent to fight the cartels. So: Are we in a bidding war with the Mexican cartels over who can bribe the most people? If so, we are doomed to lose again.

Meanwhile, back at home. people who need marijuana for relief of medical symptoms are caught between the proper fearfulness of the state personnel required by law to administer to their needs and White House drug czar John Walters, our very own modern Harry Anslinger - see items 73 and 74 on the Web at: Feel free to see more, but these two are especially illuminating.

New Mexico is the most recent state to legalize medical marijuana - not the last. The feds' pursuit of those violating federal laws but not state laws is a waste of time, money and effort.

But the tide is turning, and eventually this version of prohibition will come to an end, like the previous one, for much the same reason.

The government can't stop the flow of illegal drugs, because it cannot end the demand. The tipping point will be reached when people are tired of the abuses of civil rights by the criminal justice system and by the continued endangerment of the nation's youths by the maintenance of a black market system of drug distribution.

That's right - the person who decides what to sell, its purity, strength and price is a criminal. That's also the person who decides whether to sell to your children or grandchildren - a criminal.

Drugs are too dangerous to allow criminals to be in charge. Legalized regulation, distribution and taxation will remove the criminals from the equation. Not decriminalization - legalized regulation. There will be less disease and death, less crime, less addiction and billions of tax dollars for education and prevention programs.

Visit and see what Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has to say on the subject. Contact your congressional representatives and senators, and tell them to just say no to continued prohibition.

Jones is an advocate for legalized regulation of marijuana. He lives in Taos.

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