Pubdate: Mon, 12 May 2014
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2014 The Topeka Capital-Journal


People who try to stay abreast of the federal government's displays of
wasteful spending and lack of judgment might want to take note of a
pending trial in Spokane, Wash.

Federal prosecutors there are seeking mandatory minimum sentences of
10 years each for a 70-year-old medical marijuana patient with no
criminal history, three of his relatives and a family friend caught
growing marijuana on some rural, mountainous property owned by the

Washington has legalized medical marijuana and is moving forward with
plans to license people to grow and sell recreational marijuana to
adults. However, growing marijuana anywhere in the United States still
is a violation of federal law.

Still, the wisdom of spending federal resources on the investigation
and prosecution of cultivators of a family pot patch is questionable,
especially when there is no shortage of imported cocaine, heroin and
marijuana (a lot more than can be found in a family garden) to track
down and intercept.

It appears as though the federal government has its priorities in the
wrong place.

And do the country's taxpayers want their money spent on keeping five
nonviolent offenders in prison for 10 years? We think not.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal officials have
more important things to do than punish marijuana growers in states
that have decided to tax, rather than prohibit, the marijuana business.

Nothing written here should be taken as a call for national
decriminalization of marijuana, although prosecution of nonviolent
offenders should be handled in local and state courts.

Judges in those jurisdictions have some discretion in sentencing
guidelines and can save taxpayers the cost of supporting for long
periods the first-time offenders caught and convicted.

Rather, the point is that the federal government is spending too much
money to continue a fight it has been losing ever since President
Richard Nixon called for a "war on drugs."

Perhaps federal officials wanted to make a statement in a state that
has decided the war on drugs has been lost -- as least as far as
marijuana is concerned -- and the thing to do is profit on pot rather
than fight it. But it seems such a waste of resources when the
marijuana traffic is much heavier, and more violent, in other areas.

It will be interesting to see if a Spokane jury will convict the five
pot growers, given the state's recent position on legalization.

Regardless, the federal government has been wasting money better spent
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