Does Arizona's Attorney General Have Horse Sense Re Cannabis Legalization? Maybe So!

When responding to media questions directed at him last Tuesday in regards to a big cannabis smuggling ring being taken down by local law enforcement, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard (D) either delivered a gaffe (i.e., a politician saying something they believe to be true but didn’t mean to reveal publicly…) or is amenable to alternatives to cannabis prohibition laws. If the latter, Mr. Goddard has immediately arrived on NORML’s radar scope.
Why the question of legalization because of a large bust in Arizona? Why did the NEVER asked question of legalization come into play because of a single cannabis bust in Arizona? Because this bust, like so many thousands of previous cases along the US border, indicates strong Mexican cartel involvement and currently Mexico is going through a very violent period under North American cannabis prohibition laws. In so many respects, the very question of cannabis legalization itself in a southwest border state borders on the self-evident and obvious. Interestingly, along with Goddard’s refreshing embrace of possible alternatives to cannabis prohibition laws, Goddard appeared to be seconding the interests in legalization first raised by, of all folks, a federal ICE agent:

The issue of Arizona drug laws came up during questions about the operation of drug cartels and the violence associated with their operations, particularly in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
“The key is, they will no longer exist when people don’t buy marijuana,” said Matthew Allen, special agent in charge of the office of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “This is a market-driven economy and this is a market-driven activity.”
Allen said the question of legalization to eliminate those profits is a policy question.”But if we’re going to go down that road, what is the acceptable amount of marijuana that you want a bus driver to have in their system?” he continued.
“I believe it’s zero,” Goddard said later.
Goddard said a lot of time and money are spent on enforcement activities like the one that resulted in the bust announced Tuesday. He said that requires “a hard look” at the issue.
But Goddard said it’s not as easy as simply declaring it legal. He said there would need to be some controls on who gets the drugs — and how much they use.
So far, he said, no one has found a way to put the kind of controls on marijuana he would want before he would consider legalizing it. Allen echoed the concern that smuggling operations are not simply about marijuana. He said Mexican cartels also are in the business of smuggling cocaine and other drugs on behalf of other cartels in places like Colombia.
He said they make up the money they lose when those drugs are seized through the profits they make selling marijuana in the United States.

Mr. Goddard indicated in the Arizona Star article above that he’d be interested in cannabis legalization if two important concerns of his can be addressed:
-Controlled distribution for adults;
-Controlling and measuring cannabis use among drivers
If these are Mr. Goddard’s genuine concerns then he should consider joining NORML’s staff on a ‘fact finding’ mission to Amsterdam to see how readily cannabis can be distributed to adults for responsible use and his staff should download and read NORML’s drugged driving information and recommendations.

0 thoughts

  1. Im interested, In a situation like this would NORML contact Mr. Goddard and offer your experiance to help?

  2. I think bringing this up at the upcoming rally would be a smart move since the rest of the country will see the media coverage.

  3. One thing I guess I don’t understand is the comment about other drugs. Most drugs are imported because it’s easy to ship it with an already lucrative product. By legalizing it in the states for those who benefit from it medically you reduce the number of people involved in the trafficking. Not to mention you can funnel the money you save tracking down a drug that should not be classified as a number 1 substance. Their are so many people who could oganize the distribution if the resources and votes were made public. I don’t understand why people continue to teach children that marijuana ; which is less harmful IMO then alcohol; is on the same level as purly destructive drugs. The demand for marijuana makes is enevitable that its going to end up in the country. The quickest and most effective way to resolve the issue is to decriminalize it and put together a system that will ensure those who need it can obtain it for medical use. Also promoting study of its medical uses will allow for a contained enviorment to further research the benefit from this medacine. To state the obvious negative effect and not take immediate action to resolve the issue seems to me kind of subtle. We take the highest regaurd when protecting the lives of others, and I think we need to do the same for our own.
    I am for decriminalization of marijuana in arizona. My only concern is that many others will die before the state actually get around to following through with this.

  4. Controlled distribution for adults and what is the acceptable amount of marijuana can be handled by doing the samething that the feds do with food stamps call them herb stamps and they can limit the amount used etc 1 ounce a month and you can buy marijuana just like we buy cigs. Controlling and measuring cannabis use among drivers can be handled with the science we have today wiyh new testing.

  5. This is a step in the right direction, and demonstrates that we really do have a few courageous, logical politicians left in America!
    Still, I have to wonder, why are the benefits of the “alcoholic beverages” model so hard to understand? I liked what he had to say, until he said “controls on how much [people] use.” We don’t control how much people drink, do we? No – we make it available to adults, and leave the rest up to them! Of course, when you get behind the wheel, or are drunk in public, etc., there are sanctions, but you don’t see the same kind of violence or other problems with cannabis.
    It all comes down to the illogical stigma that is still attached to cannabis in too many peoples’ minds. Oh, and the issue of taxation, of course…

  6. I ask the same question as Adam says. Its easy, Make it legal like alcohol, same rules, same laws. You break them you pay the same price as you would by breaking drinking laws its just plain simple.

  7. How can a state legalize marijuana when it’s a matter of Federal law? It’s great to see local politicians waking up to the absurdity of cannabis prohibition, but is cannabis legalization something that Mr. Goddard can legally put into effect in Arizona?

  8. I live in AZ and living in the drug war of arizona it is visious, even for a buyer. It is a sticky situation involving the cartels. But i truely belive that if they focused on hard drugs like the meth addicts in Apache Junction and such. The cartels would still be there but the people would have no need for them. Allen St. Pierre said it best look at Amsterdam, I have been there 2 times so far anf plan to go back many times. They are a great country, great people, and their laws work. look at them and see if they can help. Legalization would not only greatly lessen violence from cartels, it would free up our court systems, jails, tax money, etc. marijuana is a renewable resource, it could help the soil in Arizona, producing plentiful crops, who knows someday they find out oh hey we can run a car on hemp. I am in favor 100%. From seeing people that have been stabbed and shot becaus eof theis stupid drug war. To see familes ruined and torn apart because of marijuana. I have seen a mom send to jail for gram of weed someone left in her car and now her children growing up without a mother. Please stop this injustice, for the sake of it’s people. The people have spoken and they want to be Free! Thank You! Have a wonderful day!

  9. Well, if we insisted on “zero tolerance” for THC in our system’s while driving, it would certainly cut back on our gasoline consumption! In actuality though, this is but a short step towards preventing actually “stoned” drivers from driving, rather than just those who had trace effects from the last six weeks. Equal footing with alcohol is alright with me.

  10. OH MY GOD!! this guy actually…wait no could it be? this guy kinda makes a little sense guys!!! could it be a politician that uses their brain for good instead of evil monye??
    still, another day Ganja is illegal in the U.S.A another reason for a good law abiding citizen to hate their government! (me)

  11. I’m sure Mr. Goddard has heard of norml. 🙂
    Any government, weather state, local, or federal, considering legalization should be invested upon heavily. of course, tact is essential in legislation.

  12. I live in arizona reading things like this send goosebumps down my spine. i remember reading about the bust, but i didnt think it would have this type of reaction. im always reading about all the other 13 states that have decriminalization laws. then when i saw AZ i was jumping up and down.

  13. BREAKING! is up and taking questions again!
    I suggest that the question we should focus on is calling for a special commission.

  14. Sorry this is off-topic but just wanted to mention that round 2 of ‘Open For Questions’ is now active at
    It will only stay open for a little while, so get over there and VOTE!!!

  15. I live in AZ and will be following this from here on out. Although I dont expect for it to be legal, I think it will raise some serious arguments and allow officials to look at control options. I will be voting for him next election.

  16. “Good” will be looked upon as “evil” and “evil” will be deemed as “good”. You tell me where the future is leading us.

  17. Off topic, however just opened for questions again with numerous marijuana related questions, lets get our votes in!

  18. guys and gals, has open for questions round two. lets push a marijuana reform question to first place again and show America were ready for a change. If you belong to any other Marijuana law reform forums, please spread the word asap since we only have a couple of days. The Obama-Biden Transition Team | Open for Questions
    here is my question:
    “What will the Obama administration do to ensure the American people are allowed to choose Cannabis as their recreational substance of choice instead of alcohol and tobacco which are not only more dangerous/deadly but also more addictive?” The Obama-Biden Transition Team | Open for Questions
    everyone should vote for as many “marijuana questions” as they can. most of them are under the “additional issues” tab.

  19. Wow!!! Norml. I love your mission but you people need to be more educated. Marijuana in the Netherlands is simply decriminalized not LEGAL. When you go in to a coffee shop you in the risk of breaking the law if you buy more than 5 grams. Yes Amsterdam is a good indicator on how the marijuana market can work but not the ideal model for all other cities and countries.

  20. Mr. Goddard and NORML need not leave the country — they need only take a ‘fact-finding’ trip over to Los Angeles, in the AG’s next-door state. We will show them hundreds of locations where we are distributing cannabis TODAY, all under control. I would wager the majority of people in Los Angeles don’t know they exist because they are so little of a problem, but if they do know, they don’t care one bit.
    I will show him cannabis distribution centers in strip malls, shopping centers, next to liquor stores and drycleaners. Shops where dozens of pounds of marijuana are sold weekly, where hundreds of people shop daily for indicas or sativas.
    The LA police know all the dispensaries, and they can tell you how little of a problem they are, compared to liquor stores and gangs violence. Heck, we had LAPD officers in our dispensary, laughing at our baby plants, HELPING us by fingerprinting for the burglars who had broken into our shop!
    The day of legalized marijuana distribution is now, and I make the invitation to everyone to come here and see what we are doing in LA.

  21. I am very happy to see someone in our government who see’s that things “Marijuana Laws” are going to change.

  22. NORML should offer assistance in this case! As a resident of Arizona, i can say that a lot of Arizonans that see their state finally mentioned. We all knew it was a matter of time, all the population in parts of the west valley (Of Phoenix) are elderly communities. And thousands of people live in sun city, which in most parts has an age requirement for residence in Sun City. And with elderly people naturally comes Medical Marijuana…

  23. Readers might be interested in this letter to the editor from Mr. Goddard. It was in the AZ Daily Star this morning, 30 Dec.
    Committed to fight drug trafficking
    Re: Dec. 24 article “Goddard poses legalizing pot.”
    I do not favor legalizing marijuana in the United States. As a law enforcement officer, I am committed to fighting back against those who traffic any illegal drug across our border or in our communities.
    Drug trafficking is a serious public safety threat. Marijuana sales are the major source of funds for Mexican drug cartels and their escalating violence in Mexico.
    Policymakers at all levels should be focused on the growing threat that violent drug traffickers pose to Arizona and all border states. As in any responsible policy analysis, all possible responses must be considered.
    I will continue to make fighting drug traffickers, such as the Garibaldi-Lopez organization, a top priority as long as I am Attorney General.
    Terry Goddard
    Arizona Attorney General, Phoenix

  24. His position is one of reason. While I respect that he must enforce current laws, he has voiced that it is up to the policymakers to initiate change. To me this is evidence that he understands the failing of cannabis prohibition, which is better than being FOR prohibition.
    In other words, I’ll take what I can get.

  25. As a retired Arizona LE officer, I found marijuana users to be polite (not happy, but polite). Many were users because of some condition.
    Until things change, such as following the rules of the FEDS, having a ‘medical marijuana’ law will not function. There are local police who will find that you did something wrong and you will end up in jail. Or the Feds find you and poof you’re in jail with virtually no trial. Since Scheduale one drugs have know known medical use, why isn’t grain alcohol not on that list? I know and cannot find a use for it, except get drunk and kill people that did nothing and KEEP doing it!
    The Feds are sure they know what is good for us. I believe the founding fathers wanted the government out of everything and only when they were needed, which they are not now.
    The LE (Law Enforcement officers) associate pot with heroin and if you smoke pot you are also violateing some other drugh law. What is funny here is that most DUI’s I’ve delt with are on other more heavy drugs.
    Get the LE people educated, get the feds out of states business and help people farm it for distribution.
    Later we can legalize it and sell it without a doctors note! Note a Doctor can’t write you a script, since it’s a federal document and marijuana is not legal, they would have their license taken away from them. If your’re getting medical marijuana, drop me a line when you’re in jail or they are wanting to put you there!

  26. Bus drivers already have free access to all the massively intoxicating alcohol they can pump down their throats… so what’s stopping them?
    And how hard would it be to develop a mouth swab test for recent consumption of MJ? It already exists..
    Truly, no prohibitionist has a leg to stand on while alcohol and tobacco are legal.. it must just be their dream of controlling others and spreading misery.

  27. I would like to see NORML come up with a omprehensive “legalization guidebook”; that is, the entire system of legalization. All the systems of codes, policies, tax stamps, licenses, controls, everything. Then just hold it up every time someone says “it could never work”. This guidebook should start with a comprehensive history of cannabis prohibition and why it’s failed, and then a reference list of every major study finding in favor of cannabis legalization in regards to health, the economy, and law enforcement. The guidebook should go on to include a case study of Amsterdam’s model, and then a hypothetical example of what full legalization would look like, and all of the accompanying benefits. It would be an incredibly useful tool to have as reference material for the movement. Think you’re up to the task, NORML?

  28. We need to stop the violence in Mexico by starting some peace in the drug war here. It would be a great start to legalize that which can save the earth and our economy.
    GO GREEN IN 2009 Tell Obama what you think as he’s the first I have ever seen to even ask

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