Thursday, February 24, 2005
Time to balance the scales on marijuana policy

This week, all across America small town papers will be publishing news like this from the Benton Daily Record in Arkansas. During the first month and an half of 2005, they made 35 arrests for marijuana possession and 4 arrests for meth.

"Marijuana has been, and will continue to be, a very popular drug for every age group," Cpl. Kelley Cradduck of the Rogers Police Department said Wednesday. "Marijuana, in many respects, is a first love for many of these dopers. I still believe that the way some groups portray it, (marijuana) is still not viewed as it should be - as a dangerous drug."

A dangerous drug he says. It's a plant, a medicinal herb used for centuries in folk medicine and current scientific research around the world is reproving its medicinal value. That aside, most cannabis consumers are not violent criminals - they're responsible citizens. When it's associated with a crime, there are always multiple drugs involved, oftentimes alcohol.

But the police have good reason to go for these little busts. They are under pressure to submit statistics to some central authority and all those easy arrests are needed to justify their budget. But while they are processing the paperwork on non-violent possession of a plant - a drunk driver is getting away. Some petty thief is breaking into a car or your apartment while you're in town for dinner. In the nearest big city to where I live, people get shot every day and murdered about once a week. They make a lot of possession busts around here as well.

They can't be everywhere at once and municipal budgets are shrinking - not growing. Isn't it time to review our priorities on what constitutes crime?

In Benton County there will be 35 non-violent marijuana cases clogging the law enforcement system. The police won't be able to investigate your break-in while they're in court testifying and they will have that much less time to investigate violent crimes.

This is the money quote from Benton County:

Cradduck agreed with Allen's assessment. "I think meth is more prevalent than those numbers are telling, but it is harder to catch," Cradduck said.

Exactly, but it presents more of a concern to the community. It's not going to get any easier to solve if they keep spending billions of your tax dollars on taking penny-ante marijuana possession cases through the court system.


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