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If you need any further evidence that weed should be legal, look no further than Tampa, Fla., and rural Michigan, two of the recent examples of the seemingly endless bloodshed generated by the war on drugs.

James Allen WadeIn Florida, a Tampa postal worker was arrested in late December and charged with murder after an acquaintance died during an argument over a small amount of pot. James Allen Wade, 19, was charged with second-degree murder after his arrest.

Wade was apparently arguing with Emmanuel Richardson, 25, about a small amount of marijuana they had purchased together. Police said Wade shot and killed Richardson at his apartment on Christmas Day.

Detectives interviewed witnesses who pointed them toward Wade, a postal worker on the graveyard shift at a mail facility near Tampa International Airport. He was arrested at his job Dec. 27 and booked in the Hillsborough County Jail.

Result of underground dealings

The killing is a shining examples of what happens when weed goes underground. Both Wade and Richardson had serious criminal records. Wade had previous convictions for leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman. Richardson had served time in prison on cocaine convictions.

In Michigan, meanwhile, a drug deal that went south led to two shootings in Kent County. One of the shootings occurred in Byron Township, the other in nearby Grand Rapids.

There were two victims. Michael Harden Murphy was shot in the buttocks Dec. 21 while fleeing his attackers. One day later, an unnamed 20-year-old man was shot during an attempted robbery. Two 17-year-olds, Terrence Fields and Otis Mack, were arrested and charged with both shootings Dec. 22.

More victims of prohibition

The first incident happened during a pot deal in Byron Township. Mack and Fields allegedly drove to the deal site in a Jeep with four other men: Murphy, who was selling the weed, a passenger who was with Mack and Fields, and another passenger who was with Murphy.

Otis Mack and Terrence FieldsWhen they got to the deal site, “Fields exited the vehicle and opened the rear passenger door where Murphy was seated,” sheriff’s deputies reported. “Fields then pointed a handgun at Murphy and demanded that he turn over the marijuana.”

Instead, Murphy stepped out of the vehicle and started fighting with Fields, police said. Murphy was shot in the buttocks as he fled the Jeep into the surrounding neighborhood.

Fields and Mack then returned to the Jeep and tried to rob Murphy’s friend. They demanded that he tell them about other people they could rob for pot.

The next day, three masked men broke into a Grand Rapids home and tried to rob Christopher Scott-Robert Derby. He was shot in the neck during the robbery but survived. The three assailants fled.

A third alleged robber, a 16-year-old boy, was arrested and held at a local juvenile detention center. Neither of the gunshot victims suffered serious injuries.

Of course, such violence is easily avoided – by legalizing pot.

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About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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