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The Daily Tar Heel

Hope In Dope: Lighting the Economy Up

No, I'm not trying to start a revolution or create a new breed of super hippie protester types -- they suck. I will not make traditional worn-out arguments for the legalization of marijuana which have been futile. Instead ...

National Security

The New York Times reported Sunday that since Sept. 11, a shift in demands has had an adverse effect on the nation's police forces.

In short, police departments that could barely keep up before are now over-extended and becoming less and less effective.

The report goes further, saying that the burden will increase as the Federal Bureau of Investigation shifts its focus away from its traditional responsibilities like bank robbery and drug trafficking to its efforts against terrorism.

Let's look at the alternative.

George W. Bush has clearly sent out the message that he will do whatever it takes to protect our homeland and eradicate a known threat.

He is doing the right thing.

But, if the United States legalizes marijuana, it further acknowledges a need to shift its focus from enforcing (in a discriminatory manner I may add) petty drug laws to protecting its citizens from unimaginable acts.

If that requires loosening the tight grip the United States holds on the illegal drug market -- than so be it.

Notice I say the illegal drug market, as it seems clear that the Food and Drug Administration has no grip on the ruthless pharmaceutical industry.

The drug OxyContin, a legal, potent painkiller was recently found to have played a role in the deaths 282 people in the last 19 months (including one here at UNC) according to a federal study.

Say what you will about marijuana -- it ain't OxyContin.

I told you I would not talk about the traditional arguments but please allow me to digress.

It's clear that most governmental institutions forced to deal with minor drug offenses are overburdened -- policing forces, jails, the judicial system.

We have the opportunity to lighten the load when it needs to be lightened -- this is the ripe moment.

It's the Economy, Stoner

We all know, especially my fellow seniors, just how much of a downturn our economy has taken.

Before Sept. 11, the United States was approaching a recession. After combining funding for relief and rebuilding efforts, industry bailouts and countless other expenses, I think you get where I'm going. But I'm not going to say the R-word.

Problem solved -- our new cash crop.

The one thing that marijuana certainly promotes is consumption -- and consumption stimulates the economy.

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Within days of legalizing marijuana (which in and of itself would generate millions for the United States government assuming its sale was government controlled), I'd want to own stock in Frito-Lay, Nestl

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