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Mayor Rybak, Let’s Be Honest About Marijuana
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - May 28 - Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has recently taken to Minnesota's airwaves in a misguided attempt to blame violence at the hands of criminal gangs on consumers of marijuana. "When you pay for marijuana, you are paying for the bullet that goes into the head of someone on the streets," he told the Star Tribune, in one instance. But the mayor's logic is tragically flawed. By trying to blame violence entirely on marijuana's consumers, Mayor Rybak is conveniently ignoring the central role in gang violence played by marijuana prohibition and the politicians who support it.
"The only reason criminals make their money from marijuana is because our current policies allow them to," said Steve Fox, director of state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Like alcohol prohibition in the last century, marijuana prohibition has helped to fuel violent crime in Minnesota and across the country. Mayor Rybak is out of touch with reality if he does not recognize that prohibition-and any elected official who supports it-is to blame for giving criminals a virtual monopoly on marijuana's lucrative trade. It is unrealistic to assume we can somehow magically remove the demand for marijuana. The only true solution is to regulate marijuana, and bring its sale under the rule of law, the same way we ended the criminal violence that stemmed from alcohol prohibition."
Even Mayor Rybak's own deputy police chief, Rob Allen, stated that violence in the marijuana trade is caused by its prohibition. "It is illegal to distribute marijuana, so the people distributing marijuana are criminal syndicates that are engaged in very violent activity to protect their turf," Allen told station KARE 11.
In a recent statement about this topic on a CityPages comment thread, Mayor Rybak wrote that "it's time we finally got honest with each other."
The Marijuana Policy Project couldn't agree more. "If the mayor wants to end violence associated with marijuana, he too needs to be honest, and join the growing ranks of those calling for an end to prohibition and the failed policies that drive money into the hands of criminals, and yes, bullets into people's heads," Fox said.