Pubdate: Tue, 04 Sep 2007
Source: Tribune, The (San Luis Obispo, CA)
Copyright: 2007 The Tribune
Author: Paul Armentano


While it may be true that law enforcement seized a record number of
pot plants growing in North County ("Marijuana busts pass 2006," Aug.
31), does anyone really believe that the net outcome of these
operations will be a tangible reduction in the demand or availability
of marijuana in the local area?

It's time for a reality check. State and federal law enforcement
personnel arrest about 800,000 Americans annually and spend about $10
billion per year enforcing marijuana prohibition.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government reports that domestic marijuana
production has increased tenfold in the past 25 years, from 1,000
metric tons (2.2 million pounds) to 10,000 metric tons (22 million
pounds). Is this the sign of a successful public policy?

The continued criminal prohibition of cannabis has had no discernable,
longterm effect on marijuana's availability or use, especially among
young people. A wiser and long-overdue national policy would tax and
regulate the use of cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol--with the
drug's sale and use restricted to specific markets and consumers.

While such an alternative may not entirely eliminate the black market
demand for pot, it would certainly be preferable to today's blanket --
though thoroughly ineffective, expensive and impotent --criminal

Paul Armentano

Senior policy analyst, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake