Legalizing Pot Might Not Grow Economy, But It Could Stem Border Violence
Norman Stamper, the retired Seattle police chief and member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com) shakes his finger at President Obama for laughing at the question of whether he’d support legalizing marijuana, one of the top questions asked at the president’s online town hall forum last week.
It’s “no laughing matter,” Stamper writes on The Huffington Post, noting that millions of people getting busted or losing jobs over buying or smoking pot and others wasting away from cancer and other diseases where marijuana could provide helpful relief really isn’t all that funny.
And though the news lately has been filled with calls for action about violence on the U.S.-Mexico border, no federal lawmakers are talking about how legalizing marijuana and other drugs would drain the narcotics business of much of its associated money and violence, and, potentially, solve a big chunk of the border problem.
Even Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard (D), who testified at a recent Congressional hearing on the problem of border violence, acknowledged that legalization should at least be debated.
That’s not happening, though. The White House recently announced a $700 million program to collaborate with Mexican law enforcement and send more U.S. law enforcement agents to the border. And the governors of Arizona and Texas recently called on the president to send in the National Guard and expand the border fence started in San Diego to stem the tide of violence. But none of these proposals mentioned considering the idea of legalization.
As Goddard testified at a recent Congressional hearing, over 2.4 million pounds of marijuana is smuggled into the United States each year from Mexico. Profits from drug sales in the United States generate $15 – $25 billion per year, and much of that gets smuggled back into Mexico in the form of cash or weapons.
Goddard recently told CNN that “marijuana is the number one producer for the [drug] cartels. Sixty to 70 percent of their gross profits comes from marijuana.” And those cartels these days are causing about 1,000 murders a year.
A recent Zogby poll found that 44 percent of Americans (and 58 percent on the West Coast) favor legalizing and regulating marijuana, much the way we do alcohol. If just a few influential lawmakers would take the issue seriously, the percentage could shoot up.
So why is the idea of legalizing marijuana, which could raise rather than spend millions of dollars in tax revenue and more effectively eliminate drug-related violence, still considered so funny?