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A Step Toward Legalization?

All of the aspects of the War on Drugs cost money for the taxpayers. Of course it provides employment for law officers, court personnel, counselors, lab technicians, lawyers, and prison officials. But the high cost of fighting drug addiction has become a great burden in our state. A recent closing over in Hilo is an example.

The U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration closed an office and an airport hangar that it had been maintaining, citing lack of funds as the reason. But it has been quite awhile since the hangar was used for the county to survey and spray Hawaii island marijuana plants from helicopters. Indeed, with a decade of legalized medical marijuana behind us, one might guess that the impetus to eradicate the plants from our volcanic-rich soil has ended. Back in 2008 Hawaii County voters directed the Hawaii County Council to turn down state and federal monies earmarked for that purpose, and to make personal marijuana use one of the lowest priorities for the county police.

That doesn’t mean that the DEA will not be providing some aerial aide in upcoming investigations. But they will have to provide support from Honolulu instead.

Hawaii County police Major Randy Apele said, "They assist us at times, but we'll be able to make adjustments."

Registered medical marijuana users are allowed to grow small amounts but the product cannot yet be sold in stores. Hawaii Island has more than half of all of those registered.

With the actual legalization of marijuana in November 2012 in the states of Washington and Colorado, all eyes will be watching to see what the results will be in every category. A poll here last May showed that only 37% of the voters favored the legalization, with 57% saying “no.” And efforts to move in that direction or even to set up dispensaries have continued to be voted down.

But on the other hand, lessening the amount of law enforcement that is directed against stopping the practice or the growth of the plants will only encourage its use, albeit illegally.

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