Alaska editorial: Think outside the box, decriminalize marijuana

Posted: Monday, January 01, 2007

This editorial appeared in The Voice of the Times:

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A government report suggests that the market value of marijuana grown in the United States now tops $35 billion, making it this nation's largest cash crop, even more valuable than staples such as corn or soybeans.

It would seem to us that after years of trying to eradicate, interdict and stomp out marijuana - and spending lives and countless billions of dollars in the process - that it may be time to consider another approach. After all, the marijuana market is demand-driven and demand does not appear to be fading. Besides, $35 billion in product is a lot of value to leave unregulated and untaxed.

Activists are pushing for marijuana to be scratched from the list of serious Schedule 1 drugs, such as heroin, and be legalized, policed and taxed like tobacco and alcohol, the Los Angeles Times reports.

It is difficult to side with those who want to legalize marijuana. Goodness knows, we already have enough mind-altering garbage for sale legally in the United States, but the reality is that Prohibition did not work and the effort to stamp out marijuana is not working either. Despite all the government's efforts, it is available to just about anyone, in any part of the nation.

We can continue to prosecute the War on Drugs, continue the business-as-usual, futile cat-and-mouse game despite its obvious failings, or we can search for a new way that could lead to destruction of the marijuana cartels and the crime they breed. At the same time we could be fattening the treasury and ensuring the safety of users.

It is well beyond time to think outside the box.

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