Pubdate: Sun, 11 Nov 2001
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2001, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Neil MacNaughton
Note: Parenthetical remark by the Sun editor; headline by newshawk


RE: "CHASING potheads called waste of time," Nov. 5. Alliance MP Keith 
Martin misses the point. Decriminalizing small-scale marijuana possession 
will do little to free police resources and will actually help criminal 
organizations, including terrorists, by increasing their revenues.

Already, police spend little time focusing on minor possession. Charges 
most often occur as a result of arrest for other reasons (i.e. a person is 
pulled over for speeding and, subsequently, marijuana is found in the 
vehicle.) Since police rarely lay marijuana possession charges in 
isolation, decriminalization will do little to save money.

Meanwhile, dropping the criminal deterrent will open up the marijuana 
market, increasing revenues for the underground networks that supply it. We 
know that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization is financed in part by 
drug money. Why would we want to increase a black market that funds terrorism?

The only way to tackle this problem is to end marijuana prohibition. Cheap 
pot available from licensed vendors or grown at home would break up the 
marijuana black market overnight. Why? Large-scale criminal and terrorist 
organizations are involved in the drug trade because it's profitable - a 
direct result of prohibition.

A regulated legalization of marijuana would create an enormous relief for 
police and the courts and increase government tax coffers. For a drug that 
the Canadian Medical Association considers relatively benign, where is the 
downside to legalization?

Neil MacNaughton

(If any change in the law comes on this issue, decriminalization will be 
tried long before legalization.)
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