Does Arizona’s Attorney General Have Horse Sense Re Cannabis Legalization? Maybe So!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director December 28, 2008

    When responding to media questions directed at him last Tuesday in regards to a big cannabis smuggling ring being taken down by local law enforcement, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) either delivered a gaffe (i.e., a politician saying something they believe to be true but didn’t mean to reveal publicly…) or is amenable to alternatives to cannabis prohibition laws. If the latter, Mr. Goddard has immediately arrived on NORML’s radar scope.

    Why the question of legalization because of a large bust in Arizona? Why did the NEVER asked question of legalization come into play because of a single cannabis bust in Arizona? Because this bust, like so many thousands of previous cases along the US border, indicates strong Mexican cartel involvement and currently Mexico is going through a very violent period under North American cannabis prohibition laws. In so many respects, the very question of cannabis legalization itself in a southwest border state borders on the self-evident and obvious. Interestingly, along with Goddard’s refreshing embrace of possible alternatives to cannabis prohibition laws, Goddard appeared to be seconding the interests in legalization first raised by, of all folks, a federal ICE agent:

    The issue of Arizona drug laws came up during questions about the operation of drug cartels and the violence associated with their operations, particularly in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

    “The key is, they will no longer exist when people don’t buy marijuana,” said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of the office of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “This is a market-driven economy and this is a market-driven activity.”

    Allen said the question of legalization to eliminate those profits is a policy question.”But if we’re going to go down that road, what is the acceptable amount of marijuana that you want a bus driver to have in their system?” he continued.

    “I believe it’s zero,” Goddard said later.

    Goddard said a lot of time and money are spent on enforcement activities like the one that resulted in the bust announced Tuesday. He said that requires “a hard look” at the issue.

    But Goddard said it’s not as easy as simply declaring it legal. He said there would need to be some controls on who gets the drugs — and how much they use.

    So far, he said, no one has found a way to put the kind of controls on marijuana he would want before he would consider legalizing it. Allen echoed the concern that smuggling operations are not simply about marijuana. He said Mexican cartels also are in the business of smuggling cocaine and other drugs on behalf of other cartels in places like Colombia.

    He said they make up the money they lose when those drugs are seized through the profits they make selling marijuana in the United States.

    Mr. Goddard indicated in the Arizona Star article above that he’d be interested in cannabis legalization if two important concerns of his can be addressed:

    -Controlled distribution for adults;

    -Controlling and measuring cannabis use among drivers

    If these are Mr. Goddard’s genuine concerns then he should consider joining NORML’s staff on a ‘fact finding’ mission to Amsterdam to see how readily cannabis can be distributed to adults for responsible use and his staff should download and read NORML’s drugged driving information and recommendations.


    39 responses to “Does Arizona’s Attorney General Have Horse Sense Re Cannabis Legalization? Maybe So!”

    1. Adam says:

      Im interested, In a situation like this would NORML contact Mr. Goddard and offer your experiance to help?

    2. Well, this is as close to a discussion as we’ve heard for a long time, and it’s better than Obama’s one sentance dismissal.

    3. Will says:

      I think bringing this up at the upcoming rally would be a smart move since the rest of the country will see the media coverage.

    4. Will says:

      One thing I guess I don’t understand is the comment about other drugs. Most drugs are imported because it’s easy to ship it with an already lucrative product. By legalizing it in the states for those who benefit from it medically you reduce the number of people involved in the trafficking. Not to mention you can funnel the money you save tracking down a drug that should not be classified as a number 1 substance. Their are so many people who could oganize the distribution if the resources and votes were made public. I don’t understand why people continue to teach children that marijuana ; which is less harmful IMO then alcohol; is on the same level as purly destructive drugs. The demand for marijuana makes is enevitable that its going to end up in the country. The quickest and most effective way to resolve the issue is to decriminalize it and put together a system that will ensure those who need it can obtain it for medical use. Also promoting study of its medical uses will allow for a contained enviorment to further research the benefit from this medacine. To state the obvious negative effect and not take immediate action to resolve the issue seems to me kind of subtle. We take the highest regaurd when protecting the lives of others, and I think we need to do the same for our own.
      I am for decriminalization of marijuana in arizona. My only concern is that many others will die before the state actually get around to following through with this.

    5. Logan says:

      This should be followed up on by an organization with all the facts, like NORML. Go get ’em!

    6. Domenic says:

      Controlled distribution for adults and what is the acceptable amount of marijuana can be handled by doing the samething that the feds do with food stamps call them herb stamps and they can limit the amount used etc 1 ounce a month and you can buy marijuana just like we buy cigs. Controlling and measuring cannabis use among drivers can be handled with the science we have today wiyh new testing.

    7. richard says:

      legalize it and bring our state out of recession

    8. Barberito! says:

      This is a step in the right direction, and demonstrates that we really do have a few courageous, logical politicians left in America!

      Still, I have to wonder, why are the benefits of the “alcoholic beverages” model so hard to understand? I liked what he had to say, until he said “controls on how much [people] use.” We don’t control how much people drink, do we? No – we make it available to adults, and leave the rest up to them! Of course, when you get behind the wheel, or are drunk in public, etc., there are sanctions, but you don’t see the same kind of violence or other problems with cannabis.

      It all comes down to the illogical stigma that is still attached to cannabis in too many peoples’ minds. Oh, and the issue of taxation, of course…

    9. Kyle says:

      I ask the same question as Adam says. Its easy, Make it legal like alcohol, same rules, same laws. You break them you pay the same price as you would by breaking drinking laws its just plain simple.

    10. Bradson says:

      How can a state legalize marijuana when it’s a matter of Federal law? It’s great to see local politicians waking up to the absurdity of cannabis prohibition, but is cannabis legalization something that Mr. Goddard can legally put into effect in Arizona?