Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jun 2004
Source: Prince George Free Press (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 BC Newspaper Group
Author: Michael Cust



Your editorial on pot paranoia deserves credit for supporting the
Senate's recommendation to legalize marijuana growing; however, your
suggestion that grow-op raids should continue because they are
operated by criminals shows economic ignorance.

Why are grow-ops operated by criminals? Because the police arrest
marijuana growers. When the threat of arrest looms over an action,
only those who are willing to risk jail engage in it - i.e. criminals.
If the police stop arresting pot growers, people who fear arrest -
i.e. law abiding citizens - will no longer be afraid to engage in the
act. And this will help drive criminal factions out of the business.

But driving criminal factions out of the pot business can only occur
entirely when marijuana growers are extended the same property rights
as wheat farmers. That is, only when legitimate pot growers are able
to call the police when someone physically threatens them or their
property will the criminals who use threats and intimidation be driven
out of the industry.

Further, increasing arrests will only make the criminal problem surrounding
marijuana growing worse. Criminals are involved in the pot trade because
only they can stomach the risk premium of an illegal act. As you arrest
more and more people that risk premium increases, leaving the industry
appealing only the most violent and desperate elements. Literally: the
greater the threat of arrest, the worse the criminal element involved.

Police should be encouraged to stop raiding marijuana grow-ops so we
can maximize public safety.

Michael Cust

Edmonton, Alberta
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