QUIT BLOWING SMOKE ON MARIJUANA (Source:Salmon Arm Observer) Regional News CN BC: Task Force Tackles Grow-Op Problem CN BC: OPED: What I Learned In High School CN BC: 'Victim' Arrested With Pot 12 May 2004 British Columbia ------- When it comes to the debate about legalizing marijuana, it's time for change. A decision needs to be made. Legal or not. One or the other. Right now, we have a situation where marijuana is not actually legal, but many, many turn a blind eye to the green economy growing in the house-next-door. Police are frustrated by trying to enforce the laws and judges are handing out increasingly lax penalties for drug infractions, which isn't doing anything to stop the huge illicit trade. The fines are laughable, mainly nothing more than the cost of doing business. and even serious cases, where lives are put at risk by structure fires with grow-ops inside, the offenders get little more than probation. So if the general feeling is that marijuana use isn't all that bad, why not make it legal, so we can have a safe, regulated industry, similar to the use of alcohol? The government could tax it to death as with cigarettes and users would pay. This would combat organized crime, reduce court time and costs and alleviate safety concerns of grow-ops in homes unsuited for the intensive hydroponic cultivation. Underage drug use could also be addressed. If society wants to "Say No to Drugs," then it is time to get tough. Consequences of drug possession and trafficking need to be swift and firm. Policing resources are needed to battle the dealers and sophisticated growers. But this half-way, shades-of-grey approach to marijuana use is not working for anyone anymore.