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Policing marijuana is a constant, widespread fight

Asked to rate marijuana on a scale compared to other drugs, Jack Killorin turned the question around.

As director of the White House Office of High Intensity Drug Areas in Atlanta, Killorin has the perspective to ask a better question.

"Which scale are you talking about?" Killorin asked. "On the scale of criminal productivity, marijuana is king."

A true cash crop.

Caught in the middle are the federal, state and local law enforcement officers and agencies fighting the Mexican drug cartels, an increasing number of grow houses and small-time dealers trying to cash in.

"Given the widespread use of marijuana in our society, the drug -- day in and day out -- generates huge amounts of money," Killorin said.

Sgt. Rick Stinson, a Columbus Police officer who is special agent in charge of the Metro Narcotics Task Force, said there is a reason large drug organizations deal in marijuana.

"You don't run some of the risks you run with cocaine," Stinson said. "They would rather get caught with 500 pounds of marijuana than 5 kilos of cocaine."

The reason?

The punishments are less.

A person caught with the 500 pounds of marijuana faces up to a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The person caught with 400 grams of cocaine faces a minimum of 25 years in prison and $1 million fine.

Read the complete story at ledger-enquirer.com

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