Skip to comments.The farcical war on marijuana
Posted on 05/10/2005 7:59:51 AM PDT by cryptical
As the nation's "drug czar," John Walters is supposed to be saving us from the ravages of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine. At least that was the original sales pitch for the "war on drugs' in the 1980s. But the war has evolved into largely a fight against marijuana, which no one has ever claimed is a hard drug. Walters is nonetheless committed, Ahab-like, to arresting every marijuana smoker in the country whom law enforcement can lay its hands on.
It used to be that drug warriors denied that marijuana was much of a focus for them, because they understandably liked people to think they were cracking down on genuinely dangerous, highly addictive drugs. No more. We are waging a war on pot, a substance less addictive and harmful than tobacco and alcohol, which presumably friends of Walters enjoy all the time with no fear of being forced to make a court appearance.
According to a new report by The Sentencing Project, in a trend Walters heartily supports, annual drug arrests increased by 450,000 from 1990 to 2002. Marijuana arrests accounted for 82 percent of the growth, and 79 percent of that was for marijuana possession alone. Marijuana arrests are now nearly half of all the 1.5 million annual drug arrests. Marijuana-trafficking arrests actually declined as a proportion of all drug arrests during this period, while the proportion of possession arrests increased by two-thirds.
Has the use of other drugs declined, prompting the focus on marijuana? No. According to The Sentencing Project: "There is no indication from national drug-survey data that a dramatic decrease in the use of other drugs led to law-enforcement agencies shifting resources to marijuana. Indeed, there was a slight increase in the use of all illicit drugs by adult users between 1992 and 2001. Over that same period, emergency-room admissions for heroin continued to increase." Drug warriors simply think it's a good thing in and of itself to arrest marijuana smokers.
Their crusade bears little or no connection to law enforcement. Crime generally has been declining from 1990 to 2002, even as pot arrests have increased. Are we to believe that crime is at its lowest rates in 30 years, but the nation is beset by rampaging marijuana smokers who are kept under minimal control only by ever-increasing arrests? Every major county in the country, except Fairfax, Va., saw an increase in marijuana arrests during the past 12 years. That Washington, D.C., suburb has not been notably overrun by hemp-crazed hordes.
The fight against marijuana isn't even working on its own terms. According to The Sentencing Project, since 1992, the price of marijuana has fallen steadily, declining by 16 percent. In 1990, 84.4 percent of high-school seniors said it was easy to get marijuana. In 2002, 87.2 percent said it was easy. Daily use by high-school seniors tripled from 1990 to 2002, going from 2.2 percent to 6 percent the same level as in 1975.
As Allen F. St. Pierre, executive director of the pro-decriminalization group NORML, puts it, "Increased arrest rates are not associated with reduced marijuana use, reduced marijuana availability, a reduction in the number of new users, reduced treatment admissions, reduced emergency-room mentions, any reduction in marijuana potency, or any increases in the price of marijuana." Besides that, the war on marijuana is a smash success.
Marijuana is not harmless, and its use should be discouraged, but in the same way, say, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day should be discouraged. The criminal-justice system should stay out of it. Twelve states have decriminalized marijuana to varying degrees, fining instead of arresting people for possessing small amounts. They recognize that as the authors of a new study for the conservative American Enterprise Institute argue "the case for imposing criminal sanctions for possession of small amounts of marijuana is weak."
John Walters, of course, will have a ready answer for the ineffectiveness of the war on marijuana. It's the answer drug warriors always have even more arrests.
Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interesting one is that in other articles it's been noted kids generally report they have an easier time getting marijuana than alcohol.
It's quite simple actually...it's easier for the doughnut munchers to arrest Joe-Pothead sitting on his couch getting high and eating a bag of chips than it is to go after real criminals.
I can picture it now.
Some sap standing up in a church basement saying "My name is Joe, and I'm a marijuana addict".
The crowd would be brought to it's knees.
Yep. If someone is legally selling booze to adults, they incur a serious risk to their legitimate business by selling to minors. The risk/reward just isn't there.
But with pot, the sale is already illegal. What difference does it make if you're selling to a minor?
San Franciso is a much better place now that marijuana has been legalized - sarcasm
The "I was just following orders..." excuse has been dismissed time and time again.
MJ is probably also easier for a teen use and not get caught. A small bag would probably be easier to hide than a six pack. Eye drops and a breath mints can help mask MJ use, but drinking can be more problematic. Young drinkers tend to get sick, pass out, and sometimes end up in the hospital or worse.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
This is in direct violation of Genesis, where God clearly says He put all seed-bearing plants on Earth for us to use.
To back up your statement, here in the Austin area (like everywhere else), the local police will not query the citizenship of those they stop because of policy, but god forbid if they find a pot seed!
You are so right. Don't forget about the sick people who are abiding by the state laws in 11 states, yet the Feds come in and destroy their lives.
Blustery winds outside the Boone County Courthouse carried harsh words today against the city's new marijuana ordinance by those who say it reduces possession of a small amount of the drug to "less than a parking ticket."
Sterling Infield, president of the Columbia Police Officers Association, or CPOA, led a news conference announcing a petition drive to reverse the ordinance passed in November. City voters also approved a separate law decriminalizing marijuana prescribed for medical purposes, which CPOA does not oppose.
Officers plan to go door-to-door in neighborhoods to gather signatures, which will be presented to the Columbia City Council. "If that doesn't work," Infield said, "we'll take the issue back to the ballot."
Package the essential poison of marijuana - the THC that makes people high and stupid and prescribe that....for ??? - OK the high that drug legalizers are so intent on getting. Seagram's could market it.
My understanding is that marijuana isn't even addicting in the strictly chemical sense, the way even alcohol and tobacco actually make permanent changes in your brain that cause dependency. So it's really one of those things you can go through a phase in life experimenting with and then give up when you grow up. The main concern I have usually hear against it is that it is a "gateway drug" that will lead to trying scarier stuff, but it seems to me that making it illegal is counterproductive, then, because that puts it on the same slippery-slope for the experimenter as the harder drugs. It contributes to the counter-culture appeal for those at a teenage level of maturity going through a rebellion stage, while not appreciably cutting down on accessibility. The sharp decline in smoking over the last few decades obviously wasn't the result of throwing people in jail, but in smoking losing almost all of its coolness. (In America, anyway; Europe's way behind the curve there.)
Plus, one criminal conviction can ruin the career future of a promising college student, possibly turning them from productive contribution to less savory activities to make money.
With violent criminals getting frighteningly short sentences due to our overcrowded prisons, it seems to me to be a matter of priorities. Let states decide if that's really where they want to spend their prosecution and incarceration resources. I know if/when I become a prosecutor I don't want to spend my time dealing with people like my sister's lame friends.
That was certainly my experience in Jr High and High School, and that was back in the 70s. If I were a conspiracy buff, I'd think that that fact would work to the WODies benefit....
1) Marijuana is illegal, making it more available to kids because there is no incentive to sellers to discriminate based on age.
2) Kids do drugs, so we have to do something about kids doing drugs FOR THE CHILDREN!
Forgot needing to keep those prisons full to keep the prison guards employed.
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