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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 18, 2009 at 6:00 AM

Drug legalization

A cure for budget deficit?

Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. agrees with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a collection of retired FBI, DEA, cops, prosecutors and judges, that America should abandon the ineffective war on drugs and consider legalization, regulation and taxation instead [“Let’s begin the discussion about legalizing drugs,” seattletimes.com, Opinion, April 2).

Faced with a billion-dollar budget deficit, Washington could benefit financially from LEAP’s proposal. Illegal drugs constitute substantial cash-crop opportunities for cash-starved state budgets.

In December 2006, Seattle Times reporter Emily Heffter wrote that Virginia-based researcher Jon Gettman found pot rivals apples as the state’s biggest cash crop [“Analyst finds that pot rivals apples as state’s biggest cash crop,” seattletimes.com, Dec. 23, 2006].

According to Gettman, marijuana has become the biggest cash crop in the United States, bringing in more annually than corn and wheat combined. And Washington is the nation’s fifth-largest producer, behind California, Tennessee, Kentucky and Hawaii.

Rather than forfeiting millions in potential tax revenue every year by criminalizing marijuana, Washington should consider legalization since marijuana is, as Gettman said, a “pervasive and ineradicable part of the national economy.”

— Ralph W. Conner, Chicago

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