Focus on recycling, not dope |

Focus on recycling, not dope

Matt Zalaznick

Recyling is mandatory, at least in a couple of places, and law enforcement has remobilized for a brand new drug war in the American Northwest. The first initiative makes sense. Since the beginning of the year, Seattle trash haulers have had the authority to warn homeowners who dump recyclable matrerial, such as junk mail and cardboard, in their regular trash. Punishments, which include a cessation of trash pickup and $50 fines, begin in 2006. Madison, Wis., the entire state of Connecticut and other areas in the Northeast have had similar programs for 10 years or longer.”Seventy percent of the population is going to walk across a bed of hot coals to recycle a bottle. They just do that. They believe in it,” George Dreckmann, Madison’s recycling coordinator, told The Associated Press. Recycling in many of these areas is surging. Instead of bickering over a barn and puttering around on bureaucractic bookkeeping expeditions – like switching to “home rule” – Eagle County’s commmissioners should be preparing a similar law. Warnings for a year and then fines. In Pittsburgh, a first offense is $62.50. The second is $500. Recycling is surging. Instead of cracking down on bankruptcy and trying to blow up Social Security, maybe the Bush administration could get federal about empty coke bottles, old newspapers and used office paper. How to pay for rubbish enforcement here in Eagle County? Lose a few sheriff’s deputies or give the commissioners a pay cut, and hire garbage inspectors, or recycling technicians, or “special environmental officers,” or whatever title fits for eco-snoops. Or make all the garbage companies do it. Most offer recycling now.Reining in our landfill is simply more important than reining in the local dope smokers, who may be contributing to the $7 billion industry the marijuana trade has become on the Canadian border. How do you shut down a $7 billion industry? You can’t. Not with all the high-tech cameras, black helicopters and hyperventilating customs officials comparing the increasingly violent trade in so-called “B.C. bud” to the crack wars on the late ’80s. But one reason the trade is violent because cops are trying to shut it down. According to The New York Times, four Canadian mounties were killed in a recent raid of a pot-growing operation in Alberta. All this over a substance no more intoxicating than the wines sipped at the various high society fund-raisers right here in Eagle County. Imagine a silent auction where the board members of the medical center try to wipe out a squad of sheriff’s deputies to project their sauvignon blanc. All this over a substance no more inebriating than the gallons of beer and cocktails guzzled during afternoon apres ski rituals. Not to mention that selling such an immense volume of mood modifiers raises the sales taxes that keep, for instance, the town of Vail solvent. Could you imagine the town liquor board machine gunning state troopers so the Coors truck can make its delivery to Bridge Street? Pass stricter punishments for not recycling. De-criminalize marijuana. Ban all smoking in public places. And like they did with the casinos in Las Vegas, let big, greedy but less gun-crazy corporations grow B.C. bud and run the cop-slaying gangsters out of the racket.City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at or 949-0555, ext. 606. Vail, Colorado

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