Marijuana: A smoking gun?

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Colorado opens first U.S. retail pot shops

Courtesy MCT Campus

On election night 2012, Colorado and Washington State legalized the sale and recreational use of marijuana. The rest of the U.S. knew it would be interesting to watch the transition play out, but many did not foresee the problems that would arise as a result when the smoke cleared–or began to rise.
When voters chose to make the drug legal, state officials warned that it was still illegal to be in possession of it while on interstate highways or other federally owned property because it still breaks federal rules.
Now only weeks after the law officially went into effect, marijuana vendors face a new problem. They can’t deposit the money they make from their sales because banks are forbidden by law to accept cash that’s been involved in the sale of an illegal narcotic, including marijuana.
Who determines which law is upheld? Do the banks accept the money because the sales are legal in their states, or do they uphold the nationally accepted law?
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke out on the controversy, hinting that changes could be on the way.
He said, “They want to be able to use the banking system. And so we will be issuing some regulations I think very soon to deal with that issue.”
If laws are changed at the federal level to allow marijuana vendors to deposit their money in banks, what does that mean for other states that do not wish to comply with the legalization of marijuana? Will they eventually be forced to make the same decision because the centralized government is making special concession for state governments?
The domestic disputes are not the only problems to consider. The drug war still rages along the U.S.-Mexico border from San Diego, Calif. to Brownsville, Texas. Colorado, one of the states in question, is only one state removed from the hotbed of narcotic trafficking.
There are serious national security concerns as cartels may buy marijuana legally in Colorado or Washington and then smuggle it into surrounding states and across the borders. What would stop U.S. citizens from becoming entrepreneurial and purchasing recreational weed and selling in places where it is still prohibited?
Are law enforcement and the legal system prepared to deal with this potential rise in crime?
According to the Denver Post, the federal government accused a Mexican Mennonite group of cooperating with the Juarez drug cartel of moving pot to North Carolina and Colorado. Seven members of the Mennonite community were indicted by a federal grand jury in Colorado.
Legalizing marijuana seems to be creating more problems than it’s solving. Parts of the U.S. could become the manufacturing headquarters for both domestic and international illegal drug trade. The violence between cartels will only intensify as the industry expands. Worse yet, could there be a rise of an American equivalent of cartels?
If there is a worthwhile opportunity for the court system to drown out the voice of the people, it’s definitely not overturning the anti-gay marriage vote in Utah. It’s stopping an international drug trafficking ring from forming in the United States through a legal loophole.
According to research, marijuana accounts for 20 percent of the sales of illegal drugs worldwide. It would be shameful if the U.S. became the facilitator for a significant percentage of the illicit narcotic trade simply because it was legal to grow and sell marijuana for recreational use.

Author: Antonio Hebert

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