The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mike Meno, MPP director of communications 202-905-2030 or

Mayor Rybak, Let's Be Honest About Marijuana


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.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the number one organization in the U.S. legalizing cannabis. We passed 13 medical cannabis laws in the past 15 years, and we ran winning campaigns in eight of the 11 legalization states. No organization in the movement has changed as many cannabis laws, impacted as many patients and consumers, created as many new markets, or done more to end cannabis prohibition in the U.S. than MPP.