Pubdate: Sat, 18 Dec 2010
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2010 Sun-Times Media, LLC


In all the best movies about Prohibition, federal agents at some point
raid a warehouse of illegal booze, smash the barrels of beer with axes
and pose triumphantly for the press cameras.

They pretend not to know -- or, worse, really are unaware -- that they
are on the losing side of history.

We like to watch such movies with a beer in hand.

Precisely the same story played out again Thursday in Chicago, but
with marijuana instead of beer. Federal agents held a news conference
to announce they had confiscated 11 tons of pot in a raid on a
warehouse in Chicago Heights.

The agents showed pictures of the pot and posed for the cameras and
called it a "great day for the good guys."

As if they did not know they are on the losing side of

We don't mean to make light of this. Marijuana remains illegal in this
country and the federal agents were doing their job, quite well.

But by one conservative estimate, more than 14,000 tons of pot are
smuggled into the United States each year, not to mention the
homegrown stuff.

Does anybody honestly believe the black market in pot will be any less
vigorous a year or a decade from now?

When asked about Thursday's pot bust, Mayor Daley got it right. "You
could do this every day," he said with a shrug. "You could have a
headline. That's how serious the question is."

We respect the federal agents for doing their job. But that news
conference sent a false message of hope and progress in the war on

We have long called for decriminalizing marijuana, in part to free up
the police to crack down on more dangerous drugs such as heroin.

That, we think, would be a much better photo op. 
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