Gathering Place

Nick Veltre

‘Ice’ addiction is booming,
thanks to anti-pot efforts

Solving Hawaii's ice problem is simply a matter of the Legislature and the police obeying immutable laws of economics. Hawaii has been warned many times to end police state-style marijuana eradication programs such as "Green Harvest" or suffer the unavoidable consequences of a prohibition mentality: The tougher the laws, the harder the drugs.

A helicopter carries a load of marijuana seized by law enforcement authorities on the Big Island.

>> Hawaii's first warning: In his 1989 report "Survey of Hawaii's War on Drugs," former Attorney General Warren Price predicted, "The destruction of the [marijuana] industry ... would create another problem: there would simply be a shift to other competitively priced drugs ... victories over the pakalolo industry would create a vacuum that harder drugs could fill."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure the attorney general wasn't a pothead.

>> Hawaii's second warning: In the early 1990s, the National Institute on Drug Abuse was commissioned by the White House to study Hawaii's ice problem. According to the NIDA, an "important finding emerging from this study concerned the effect on individuals and communities from the scarcity of marijuana due to the eradication campaigns. Users often reported this was a major contribution to the increase in the use of meth, especially in Honolulu. In many communities it had a devastating effect". (1991-94 Final Report, "Ice and Other Methamphetamine Use: An Exploratory Study").

Hawaii should endeavor, given its enormous comparative economic advantage in the industry, to regulate the cultivation and distribution of this relatively benign (nothing is harmless) herb, and reap the economic and social advantages.

Someone should tell Elaine Wilson of the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Division that using hundreds of beds for treating "marijuana addiction" is a bit silly. Nobody goes to rehab for marijuana unless they are sent there by a judge as an alternative to jail. It's not physically addicting and marijuana users are not dangerous. Those beds could be used for ice addicts to the greater good immediately.

We've killed a local industry that once brought between $1 billion and $10 billion a year to these islands, and we got a hard drug problem and prohibition-engendered crime in exchange. Now we send much more than a half-million dollars to the mainland every day to fulfill the demand for marijuana that the local growers can no longer supply and many people cannot afford (so they buy cheap, deadly ice instead).

That amount of money would plug the state budget gap many times over. Regulate marijuana, and profit from the economic and social advantages that would accrue to everyone in the state.

Nick Veltre of Haleiwa is head of the Hawaii Marijuana Party.


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