This year North Dakotans may be asked to vote on not one but two ballot measures legalizing marijuana (and, ironically, one measure to implement tobacco price prohibition).
Interestingly, Fargo Police Chief David Todd seems open to the idea of medicinal marijuana, and is critical of the way the federal government is handling recreational marijuana use UPDATE: Todd is walking back his comments, see below. He said as much during an interview on the Jay Thomas Show yesterday afternoon on 970 WDAY. The comments came in the context of talking about Fargo’s growing heroin problem.
An emailer to the show asked Chief Todd whether he supports legalizing marijuana all over the state.
“That’s a no-win conversation for me,” he said. “I will tell you this. I think the federal government needs to step up and lead from the front on this marijuana issue instead of being the bunch of cowards and politicians they are. They’re saying it’s illegal, and it’s on the books as illegal, but they’re choosing to look the other way and they’re telling their federal agents don’t pursue these cases in states that have legalized it.”
“They put law enforcement in an impossible situation,” he added. “They say it’s illegal, but they say don’t enforce it. It creates black market in one area and free markets in another.”
That’s pretty open minded for a law enforcement official.
“As far as medicinal marijuana,” Chief Todd continued, “why should that be different from any other drug? Run it through the FDA and treat it as medicine.”
Makes sense to me, though I worry that the medicinal marijuana ballot measure being circulated in North Dakota is so restrictive, and so prohibitive, that those needing the drug are still going to find it easier to turn to the black market.
The best policy solution for marijuana, I think, is full-on legalization. I’d rather deal with the headaches from that – and there would certainly be some headaches – than continuing to pour tax dollars and law enforcement resources into full-on prohibition.
UPDATE: Chief Todd is now saying I “misinterpreted” his comments on Jay’s show. I feel I quoted him accurately, but obviously he’s the final arbiter on what he means. You can listen to the audio above and decide for yourself.