Police groups get knickers in twist over marijuana… because of course.

Eric Holder (AG, US DOJ) recently sent an open letter saying that the federal government would respect the decision of states like Colorado and Washington (my home state) to legalize marijuana for personal use.

This guy, in spite of appearances, is apparently pretty cool.
This guy, in spite of appearances, is apparently pretty cool.

This is a good thing, since (not to get sidetracked) the states have often been litmus tests for change on the federal level, especially when that change is deeply controversial. Now, the federal government DOES have the right to enforce federal law in states that don’t recognize it, via their own law enforcement agencies and via punitive measures directed at the out of line legislatures of the offending states. This is (partially) how the civil rights movement got equal rights for citizens of differing nationalities and such in all fifty states.

Including the right to vote and hold public office for guys like him. Huh. Who'da thunk it.
Including the right to vote and hold public office for guys like him. Huh. Who’d a thunk it? WOOT

However, when there is a populist movement to change or eradicate a law, the states often provide a good way to experiment with that change, and see if the results are more as predicted by the side requesting change, or the side asking for preservation of the status quo. In a nation as large as ours, a state can be the equivalent of an experimental group in a study. So I fully agree with and endorse Mr. Holder’s letter. I think that most people, if they approached the subject in that manner, would do the same. Even those against marijuana legalization might pause for thought when confronted with the fact that if legalization has more negative than positive outcomes in the states that have legalized it, that might very well lead to firmer strictures on drug possession and sales throughout the fifty states.

It's okay, Washington, we'd be freaked too if our gigantic balls were being cupped by a fed in green gloves.
It’s okay, Washington, we’d be freaked too if our gigantic balls were being cupped by a fed in green gloves.

After all, the war on drugs has engendered massive amounts of pain over the years, not to mention casualties – I’ll give one example.

That example is Isaac Singletary. Isaac, an eighty year old man who was acting as caretaker for his sister and mother, saw undercover police, who were posing as dealers, attempting to make drug deals on his front lawn. Isaac first came out and yelled at them to leave. Of course they didn’t. So he went back inside, and returned with a gun in his hand, telling them to leave again. Without identifying themselves as police or in any way attempting to de-escalate the situation peaceably, one of the police officers opened fire, wounding Isaac.

I’ll say that again: A cop shot an innocent civilian; an eighty year old man who believed he was acting to protect his neighborhood from drug dealers.

Isaac tried to get away into his backyard, but the cops chased him down and shot him – again – this time in the back, killing him.

Five witnesses at the scene testified that the officers never identified themselves.

This is the inevitable result of the enforcement of laws making marijuana illegal. It’s horrific, unjust, and creates a well-deserved image of the policeman as a killer and a bully mad on power.

This is the person the police shot. This is Isaac SIngletary. Jesus. (Click for link to source article.)
This is the person the police shot and killed. This is Isaac Singletary. Jesus. (Click for link to source article.)

So the logical, informed people in the USA want to see if maybe legalization might result in less death and mayhem than the current state of affairs. Of course they would. And trial states like Washington and Colorado are perfect to find that out. Not everyone approaches things from a detached, impersonal, and clinical perspective, though. Not everyone is rational. And not everyone stops to think before they open their mouths and insert their collective feet.

And what a list of foot-breathers it is. Read more after the jump.

Everyone from the National Narcotic Officer’s Association and the National Sheriff’s Association through the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association and more got together and wrote this letter in protest of Mr. Holder’s enlightened decision. It reads like a tantrum, and there are very good reasons why it does so. Since I’m that kind of guy, I’m gonna do a little unearthing and show my faithful readers (all one of you) exactly why.

I’m in bold, the letter is unbolded.

“On behalf of the undersigned national law enforcement organizations, we write to express our extreme disappointment that the U.S. Department of Justice does not intend to challenge policies in Colorado or Washington that legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana in contravention of Federal law.”

Well, damn. Boohoo. Your extreme disappointment? What is he, your child? Didn’t think so. Face it, boys, this decision isn’t yours to make. It was made without your input, but guess what: your input isn’t mandatory, nor is it necessary when making decisions like these, which are well above your pay grade – literally.

I know you think that's you on the left, but nope.
I know you think that’s you on the left, but nope.

“As law enforcement officials, we are charged with enforcing the law and keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe—a task that becomes infinitely harder for our front-line men and women given the Department’s position.”

Hmm. Okay, I’ll bite – just how does it make your job more difficult? I would think not having to worry about enforcing this particular law would give you more manpower and resources to go after other crimes, like rape, burglary, or embezzlement.

Or…Or did you mean that it would reduce the amount of income? You know, the stuff you get from the seizure of property related to drug prosecutions, (which are kept and sold by law enforcement even when the accused people are acquitted of any wrongdoing)?

Shit, I guess the jacuzzi will have to wait.
Shit, I guess the jacuzzi will have to wait.

Because I can see how that might be a problem for you – especially your drug task forces. Suddenly, all that sweet, sweet drug forfeiture money goes away, and you have to subsist on the money we (the taxpayers) feel like paying you. Darn. It’s like we all came to the realization that there was a chemical version of the inquisition going on in the land of the free, and decided to step on the mechanism of that machine where it hurt – in the pocketbook. 

Hey, look on the bright side – at least it’s still illegal elsewhere.

“Communities have been crippled by drug abuse and addiction, stifling economic productivity. Specifically, marijuana’s harmful effects can include episodes of depression, suicidal thoughts, attention deficit issues, and marijuana has also been documented as a gateway to other drugs of abuse.”

Really? This is what you’ve got? First off, there’s study after study showing that marijuana doesn’t have any physiologically addictive effects. Alcohol does, but it’s legal, and the logic of the point is pretty much moot from there. If you want to go after marijuana because it’s addictive, then not only are you wrong in your basic premise, but you also might wanna think about how well prohibition worked out. 

On the economic front, half of the point of legalization is to get the massive amounts of money currently made from black market marijuana (and seized by police) out of the shadows. You know, out where it can be taxed and fed back into the communities; where it can create legal, taxpaying jobs for these areas you say suffer from economic non-productivity.

As far as the negative effects of marijuana, I haven’t seen any study linking marijuana to suicidal thoughts in any but the already mentally ill – those likely to have suicidal ideation already, and for whom ANY central nervous system depressant (including alcohol) can have the same effect. Ditto, by the way, for depression.

Attention deficits are also common with the use of CNS depressants – including alcohol. Try asking a very inebriated party goer to say the alphabet backwards – They usually can’t. This is why it’s one of the field sobriety tests cops use to tell if you’re under the influence, and it’s why ‘attention deficits’ is a bullshit ploy to make marijuana sound more dangerous.

And you’ll notice that these, the strongest negative effects that have been documented with marijuana, don’t even come close to the worst effects of alcohol. Alcohol’s worst effects may include, but are not limited to, psychosis, vomiting, cirrhosis, black-outs, uncontrollable rages, hallucinations, delirium tremens (aka DTs, ‘the horrors’, ‘the shakes’), loss of fine motor control (ataxia), delayed reactions, blurred vision, dizziness,  profound confusion, respiratory depression, urinary incontinence, heart attack, unconsciousness, coma, asphyxia and death. DEATH.

Pictured: ≠
Pictured: ≠

As far as the gateway drug thing… *facepalm* Words… Words cannot do this justice. It’s common sense that the link between marijuana and harder drugs is caused by it being illegal in the first place. I’ll give you an example:

One day, a kid gets asked by a friend if he wants to smoke a bowl. Against his better judgment and all the terrible stories he’s heard, the kid decides to try it. Magically, he doesn’t die or become a drug fiend overnight, and the high is kind of fun. So he does it some more. Years later, this same kid gets asked by another friend if he wants to try opium (or something else, like ecstasy, say.) The kid’s thought process goes like this: ‘They told me marijuana would ruin my life, but they were wrong. Maybe they’re wrong about this drug, too.’ And so the kid goes ahead and tries the harder drug. Boom. Marijuana becomes his gateway drug. 

For the record, that was a friend of mine. And I know a dozen more with similar stories. Some of them became addicts to one or more substances, most didn’t. But either way, if marijuana wasn’t hyped as being more harmful than it is, likely its gateway drug status would pretty much dissipate into thin air. Granted, that’s anecdotal, but so is most of the tenuous link between marijuana and harder drugs.

“Marijuana use has had devastating effects in our communities with over 8,000 drugged driving deaths a year, many of which involved marijuana use.”

Whoa, hold up a second. 8000 deaths a year? Holy shi- Oh, wait. ‘Many of which’. Riiiight. So basically, you want to have a big number, but the number of traffic fatalities with marijuana involved is too low to impress. Yeah, that kind of figures. By the way, drunk driving fatalities? yeah, those were 6,316 in 2011 (most recent data, NHTSA) – which means that marijuana related traffic fatalities were at MOST 1,684, using the figures given by the letter. Since that number includes ALL other drugs, my guess is that there’s a certain number of cocaine, methamphetamine, opioid, prescription drug, and hallucinogen related fatalities. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the amount is about equal. That means that each type of illegal substance listed would be responsible for no more than 337 traffic fatalities. But I’m pretty sure that meth and other hard drugs were more likely responsible for the majority of the remaining deaths, so let’s say that half of an even share would be the number of marijuana deaths. That means of the reported 8,000+ traffic fatalities nationwide in 2011, only 168 were marijuana related. That’s less than 3%. In fact, that’s 2.1%. Good job selling the hype, though. If I couldn’t do research and extrapolate from my findings, I’d have bought it. 

“As recently as May of 2013, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)released a report showing that marijuana is the most common drug found in the systems of individuals arrested for criminal activity.”

Well, gee. Did you think that might be because marijuana is the most commonly used drug, period? If one conducted a wide-scale, massively illegal drug test on the American population, I’m pretty sure the most common drug found in the systems of people IN GENERAL would be marijuana, regardless of their criminal activity (exception being made, of course, for the fact that marijuana consumption is in and of itself illegal). Derp.

Pictured: America.
Pictured: America.

Since I’m already over two thousand words on this regrettable piece of excrement, I’ll only speak on one more example of egregiousness by the writers of this letter:

“…it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice did not consult our organizations – whose members will be directly impacted – for meaningful input ahead of this important decision.”

It’s unacceptable that your bosses – the people who make policy decisions – made a decision without consulting you? In what universe do you live? I don’t think I can picture a universe where that level of arrogance is in evidence in any other employment  We’re not talking about the manager of a McDonald’s deciding to change your work hours without asking you, we’re talking about the equivalent of the corporate offices deciding that the store won’t offer the McRib anymore. Can you imagine the workers of the world deciding that they won’t take it any more over that kind of a decision? It’s not a decision depriving them of pay or benefits or employment – oh, wait. Yeah, I forgot, it kind of is. If marijuana becomes legal, then drug enforcement task forces have less crime to go after, less convictions to trumpet in the papers, and less funds and property to seize from people who may or may not be guilty. So I guess the police really ARE worried about less pay and less demand for their services. 

On the other hand, fuck that, and fuck the self-serving mindset masquerading as public service that disingenuously offers up a letter like this one.

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2 thoughts on “Police groups get knickers in twist over marijuana… because of course.

  1. Of course the real problem with the war on drugs is that it is fundamentally unwinable and in our efforts to win it, we’ve eroded our civil rights considerably. The mere fact that something like a retroactive warrant can exist is mildly horrifying. We really just need to legalize, regulate and tax all of it, but since that won’t happen anytime soon, I’ll at least take marijuana legalization over nothing.

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    1. You know, it’s the way I looked at civil unions and suchlike. It’s a step in the right direction. And I guess that’s why those organizations are having problems with it. They’re too invested in the status quo.

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