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Arizona AG Contemplates Marijuana Legalization

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A major bust of Mexican drug traffickers operating in Arizona is prompting the state's attorney general to consider the legalization of marijuana, the Yuma Sun reported Dec. 24.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said that marijuana sales are responsible for up to 75 percent of the money that cartels use for smuggling other drugs and for combating the army and police in Mexico. Goddard contended that those profits could be significantly reduced if marijuana possession was legalized.

The comments came in the aftermath of the breakup of a trafficking ring responsible for smuggling up to 400,000 pounds of marijuana into Arizona yearly since 2003. Under contract to Mexican drug cartels, the sophisticated group used heavy-duty trucks, solar-powered radio towers, and a network of lookouts to expedite the transport of drugs across the border.

Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of the office of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said that the cartels only exist because people want to buy marijuana. “This is a market-driven economy and this is a market-driven activity,'' Allen said

Goddard said that if proper distribution controls were developed, the legalization of marijuana in Arizona “could certainly cut the legs out of some of these criminal activities.” However, Goddard noted that he had “not found, and do not know of, a way to make a prescription control over marijuana as a consumer product.”  

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