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OCTOBER 9, 2003
1:14 PM
CONTACT: Marijuana Policy Project  
Bruce Mirken 415-668-6403
Congress Probes Marijuana Production on Public Lands but Ignores Real Solutions
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, CA -October 9 - A Friday morning congressional hearing into illegal drug production on public lands will ignore the real solutions to a serious problem, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) said today.

The hearing, being held jointly by the Subcommittees on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs and Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 10, at 10 a.m. PDT at Wuksachi Village and Lodge in Sequoia National Park.

"No one wants to see marijuana grown in secret, guarded camps in national parks and other public lands, but this growing problem is a direct result of our current policies," said MPP Director of Government Relations Steve Fox. "When was the last time you saw a clandestine vineyard or fields of hops hidden inside a national park and surrounded by booby traps? We can protect our parks and reduce violence by bringing marijuana out of the criminal underworld and into a regulated system, like we've done successfully with wine and beer."

Evidence suggests that these well-hidden marijuana fields are a direct result of "eradication" efforts. A new study by David W. Rasmussen and Bruce L. Benson, published in the Florida State University Law Review, cites numerous examples of such efforts' leading to new, better-concealed, and more widely dispersed production activities. "A long history of drug enforcement efforts suggests that elimination of supplies coming from one area will soon lead to increased cultivation elsewhere," Rasmussen and Benson write, noting that such efforts also tend to weed out "relatively benign and less experienced drug dealers, leaving the trade with better organized and more violent organizations."

"Adding insult to injury is the complete lack of evidence that marijuana eradication efforts actually reduce the marijuana supply on the street," Fox added. "The National Research Council, in a 2001 report commissioned by the drug czar's office, found evidence of success in supply reduction programs `largely nonexistent.' Meanwhile, 87 percent of high school seniors told government researchers last year that marijuana is `easy to get.' Despite all this, the committee has failed to include even one witness who will raise these concerns."


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