Marijuana Legalization: "Pot Mom" is Just One More Casualty in the War On Drugs

45-year-old Andrea Sanderlin, a.k.a Pot Mom, of Scarsdale, N.Y. may have seemed like your everyday mother. However, like the famous protagonist of "Weeds" Nancy Botwin, Sanderlin supported herself and her children with her fair share of weed dealing. Well, enough weed to actually land her under arrest, facing a minimum of 10 years in prison and $10 million in fines.

Sanderlin was arrested on May 20 after authorities raided a Queens warehouse, where they found $3 million worth of pot and close to 3,000 plants that were used to run the multimillion dollar pot shop.

Now out on $500,000 worth of bail, Sanderlin awaits trial for the federal drug charges by the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York. Sanderlin pleaded not guilty last Friday to charges that included manufacturing marijuana, possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, and for maintaining a warehouse where marijuana was grown and processed. Regardless of the kind and maternal image she is trying to construct to warrant her extreme infringement of harsh New York state law, prosecutors see her as no different than Colombian drug lords.

Sanderlin is only another example of how dictatorial marijuana laws have led to a booming black drug market. Interestingly, the 24-7 press release noted that the "Relaxed marijuana laws in other parts of the nation have affected New York's illegal drug trade in a way that few people may have expected: it has made New York an attractive destination for dealers, despite the harsh penalties they may face if they are caught and convicted."

Dealers in the 18 states that have legalized medical marijuana (and the two that have legalized it outright), have found that they can no longer compete against the sudden glut of legal marijuana dispensaries, and thus move their trade to locations where they can function via the black market. Here, risks remain high, and therefore so do prices, averaging 50-100% higher than those lax drug law states like in California

Four decades ago, former Governor Nelson Rockefeller championed and established strict penalties for those NY convicted drug felons, meaning that even low-level offenders often faced long prison sentences.  Since then New York became a famous leader in the nation's "tough-on-crime" movement, particularly with regard to drug-related offenses. Although New York's Rockefeller drug laws have been amended throughout the years, they remain some of the harshest drug laws in the nation.

Unfortunately, regardless of the harsh punishments the government chooses to inflict on its citizens for such an innocuous drug, the marijuana trade will only be forced deeper into unsafe and violent conditions as dealers begin to create larger cartels to meet demands for the drug. Sanderlin herself remains only one more example of the casualties in the war on drugs.