Pubdate: Mon, 16 Mar 2009
Source: Salina Journal, The (KS)
Copyright: 2009 The Salina Journal
Author: Tom Bell, Editor & Publisher
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Decriminalizing pot better than sending our troops into danger

Drug cartels are responsible for murdering 6,300 in Mexico last year 
and even more will be killed in 2009.

Law enforcement has broken down in border cities like Juarez and 
Tijuana, where police are told to either take bribes or take a 
bullet. Public officials are beheaded along with journalists who dare 
criticize drug lords.

Thousands of Mexican troops have moved into hot spots where they are 
outgunned and out-maneuvered by well-funded gangs. According to a 
story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the U.S. Joint Forces Command 
considers Mexico's government in critical danger of failing.

The violence is so bad President Obama is considering moving National 
Guard and Army troops to the border.

The Associated Press and Chronicle also report that problems extend 
far beyond the border. Gangs have moved marijuana-growing operations 
into national parks in Northern California, where they poison streams 
with fertilizers and pesticides. Mexican citizens are kidnapped to 
work the fields as slaves and gang members have threatened anyone 
crossing their paths.

An AP story published Friday told how cartels are recruiting U.S. 
teenagers to roam major cities and gun down competitors.

The Mexican government shares some of the blame for this explosion of 
violence. A tradition of corruption runs deep in law enforcement and 
the military. Tough action has been slow to come.

But the root of the problem is U.S. demand for drugs such as cocaine 
and marijuana. Washington's War on Drugs tries to stem the flow with 
enforcement that drives up prices and generates untold wealth for drug lords.

Years of harsh prison sentences and billions of dollars have done 
little to stem U.S. consumption. The answer is to remove the reason 
for proliferating violence: profit.

Imagine what would happen if marijuana were decriminalized and 
smokers could buy their high from a nearby farmer or grow a few 
plants of their own.

Cities and states could collect taxes from pot rather than spend 
dollars trying to enforce antiquated drug laws -- statutes that even 
prohibit growing hemp varieties that are cheap renewable sources for 
rope, clothes, food and oil-based products.

Cocaine is another matter entirely. But removing penalties from 
marijuana use and possession would cut problems by more than half.

Decriminalization is a common-sense solution here, and it's far 
better than sending our troops to face drug lords' bullets.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom