CNN Special Investigations Unit
If you just drove by this house, you would never know what’s inside that walled off garage. But under a stifling Florida sun, the garage is a cool 70 degrees, a constant flow of cool, nutrient-rich water flowing throughout the floor, and illuminated by golden glowing lamps whose radiance bounces off reflective aluminum walls. It is all designed to provide maximum growing potential for the 42 mature marijuana plants evenly spaced in this factory of pot.
After seeing this, my initial reaction is that the fight to eradicate marijuana in this country is hopeless. But does that mean we should give up and legalize pot?
For two weeks, knowing I was assigned to this story, I have been asking that question to the many prosecutors, DEA agents and police I’ve encountered. The overwhelming answer is no. There is no doubt, in the minds of these people who come in contact with users, growers, smugglers and junkies, that marijuana use is terrible for the individuals who engage in it. It is not just a pathway to stronger drugs; it is, in and of itself, a recipe for losers. People who call themselves ‘casual users,’ in the minds of law enforcement, are deluding themselves into believing they are not affected by this drug. They compare it to the drunk who believes he can actually drive better with a few drinks inside.
The bigger question is how to stop marijuana use. The DEA agents who raided this home, could raid similar homes everyday, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and still the marijuana would grow. Which is why there may need to be a huge strategic change in our so-called drug war. Anti-smoking campaigns work for tobacco. Why won’t they work for marijuana?
That should really be the focus of our efforts. We shouldn’t be laughing at the lame jokes from comedians talking about harmless weed; we shouldn’t allow rappers to glorify the wonders of living high. If nothing else, we should be telling our children that no matter what it is, putting smoke into your lungs is unhealthy, uncool and in the case of pot, a first step towards a life of a loser.
OK all you pot heads, let me hear it!
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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