Pubdate: Sun, 01 Sep 2013
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2013 Times-Standard


On Tuesday, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman and Humboldt County
Sheriff Mike Downey both said, in effect, that they have seen the war
on marijuana, and marijuana is winning.

"I was never a big fan of legalization," Downey said, "but right now I
think that's the most logical way to end this drug war."

On Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department seemed to

In new guidelines sent to all 50 states, federal prosecutors have been
told not to target marijuana users or marijuana businesses who are in
compliance with state law.

What this announcement means for the 18 states -- including California
- -- that have already legalized marijuana for medical use, and for
Washington and Colorado, which have legalized recreational use, is
that each will be expected to establish and enforce strict

If any state fails to do so, the Justice Department -- which has until
now hindered, hectored and harangued any effort to establish a
regulatory framework for decriminalized marijuana -- will now move to
block the state's law.

The Justice Department further laid out eight federal priorities for
prosecutors to weigh in future marijuana prosecutions:

- -- Preventing marijuana distribution to minors

- -- Preventing money from sales from going to criminal

- -- Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal
to states where it is illegal

- -- Preventing criminal groups from using state laws as cover for
trafficking of other illegal drugs

- -- Preventing violence and the use of illegal firearms

- -- Preventing drugged driving

- -- Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands

- -- Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal

While the announcement made clear that the feds still consider
marijuana to be a Schedule I drug and that users, growers, and sellers
may still find themselves subject to federal prosecution, we still
welcome the news. However overdue, however incomplete, it's one more
step toward a cessation of hostilities in an unsuccessful war on
marijuana waged by the authorities for three-quarters of a century.

What's the war on pot done for California? It's overcrowded our
prisons and jails, handed large swaths of our state parks over to the
cartels, driven underground commerce that would have been legitimate
had state law been allowed to take effect.

Here in Humboldt County, keeping pot illegal and unregulated means
environmental devastation, poisoning of lands, streams and wildlife.
Keeping pot illegal means robberies, home invasions, murders. It means
broken families, shattered lives.

Some say marijuana is a gateway drug, and it's true. Illegal pot is
sold by some of the same people who will gladly offer you other black
market drugs like coke, meth and heroin. Take marijuana off the black
market and put it in the corner pharmacy, and suddenly, it's a gateway
drug to ... what? Bad beer? Snack food? Poor life decisions? Pain
relief? Medicine?

There is a price to maintaining our national schizophrenia on pot.
Humboldt County is paying it. Illegal marijuana may be fueling -- at
bare minimum -- at least one-quarter of our economy, but the gains are
not spread evenly, and the costs are breaking us.

Legalization can't come soon enough.
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