The Kirkland shooting trial exposes the dangers in the disconnect between the health and legal consequences of marijuana

In May 2009, Justin Cosby, a 21-year-old Cambridge resident, was shot to death in the basement of Kirkland House. But Cosby wasn’t fatally wounded by accident or in cold blood—he was shot after he refused to hand over a large sum of marijuana to Jabrai Jordan Copney, a New York City songwriter who has just been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In that sense, Cosby’s death is perhaps the best illustration of what is truly dangerous about marijuana: The transaction surrounding its purchase, not the effects of its use. Although it just isn’t the case that students risk their lives every time they purchase marijuana, Cosby’s murder is nevertheless a reminder of the potential for violence in these illegal transactions. Therefore, the Kirkland shooting—in which that sort of violence went so far as to claim a life on Harvard’s own campus—is a clear reminder that the College—and, in a broader sense, the U.S. government—must do everything in their power to ensure the safety of the individuals they exist to protect.

Ultimately, ensuring that kind of safety means legalizing marijuana.

READ MORE: Editorial: A Drug That Kills
The Harvard Crimson,Apri 26, 2011