Date Posted: August 31, 2011
Print Edition: August 25, 2011
Gangs have been around for ages. It may be easy to blame gang violence and gang activity on rap music and motorcycles, but the truth of the matter is that organized crime was around long before Biggie was shot. Bosses, dons and presidents of different clubs have set up shop in small towns and big cities all across the world, bringing with them their violence, corruption and criminality.
Recently, notorious gangster Jonathon Bacon was shot to death while in Kelowna. The gunman also managed to injure a Hells Angel member and three others. A member of the Red Scorpions, Bacon had made himself and his brothers well known to both authorities and other gangs. The Bacon brothers were alleged to have been involved in the dial-a-dope business. Their underlings carried phones with the lines open 24/7/365 for speedy and efficient delivery.
But just as in any other business, rivalries emerge. Unlike the competition between Google and Apple, however, disputes between competing gangs often result in violence. As soon as one gang starts stepping on the toes of another, people start getting shot. Many of the drugs trafficked by these gangs are lucrative – especially marijuana.
The two-sided argument about legalizing marijuana is getting old. The reason we are still talking about it is because we have yet to see significant change in the way our society deals with the so-called “problem.” Use of marijuana is common, less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, and non-addictive. Criminalizing recreational users isn’t the solution.
How our government has been dealing with crime is simply not working. Maybe we didn’t have as many shootings in 2010 as we did in 2009, but the problem is starting again. Continuously removing the bad guy and putting him in jail just provides opportunity for the next money hungry fool to step up and make the right connections to start a drug business.
The government needs to respond by eliminating the business opportunity right from the very people who currently control it. Instead of society paying for the accommodation of these felons, we can legalize marijuana and use the tax revenue their former crops would provide. We need to start beating them at their own game. By taking away specific cards, they will never be able to play the full deck.
Crime isn’t going to go away by legalizing marijuana, but it will deal a significant blow to organized gangs. Instead of filling our prisons with small time offenders, and making more prisons to house them, money can be focused on cracking down on the often-violent organized criminals. While the punk down the street is selling small amounts of marijuana to his or her friends, other gangsters are moving guns, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs that are actually harmful and affecting our society.
It is time to start zeroing in on the big problems instead of criminalizing non-violent marijuana users. Maybe then we will have more time and money to hire a few police officers to follow these big time felons so there is not another shooting in broad daylight.