– The Cannabis Defense Coalition is closely following another trial – this one in Mason County. The defendants, Karen Mower and John Reed, were charged after a police raid on their home found 38 plants. Both are authorized patients. Mower is a terminally ill woman in her 40s who’s been given only 2 years to live by doctors, but the judge has disallowed a medical defense. The next pre-trial hearing is on Monday, June 8 at the Mason County Courthouse in Shelton. The CDC will be arranging for carpools so that concerned citizens can attend the hearing.
– Scott Morgan reminds us that despite what the U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle keeps saying, the initial arrest and prosecution of Marc Emery was motivated by Emery’s politics more than anything else. In Emery’s home province of Ontario, lawyers are preparing a case that will challenge Canada’s marijuana prohibition in court.
– New York Times columnist Nick Kristof recently posted a query about drug legalization to his facebook account, soliciting feedback for a column this week. It’s great to see some of the most well-respected journalists in the country starting to tackle this question. Here are what I consider the 5 most important reasons the U.S. should go down that path right now:
1. Reducing law enforcement/incarceration expenses – You can just peek ahead to the section below on LEAP’s Howard Woolridge for a good rundown on this one. He talks about the law enforcement side of the equation when it comes to marijuana, but the incarceration costs for all drug users is an even more enormous expense that would be greatly diminished if we invested public funds into treatment. We sometimes think of the economic benefits of ending drug prohibition from the standpoint of how much money would be raised from taxing it, but the real savings come from the amount of money we won’t spend trying to put the 20-30 million Americans who either use or distribute drugs through our criminal justice system. We’re in a very serious economic crisis across the country right now, and while ending drug prohibition won’t solve the problem alone, the problem is virtually unsolvable without reducing the amount of public money that we spend incarcerating as many people as we do.
2. Improving the situation in Mexico – The decades long “war on drugs” had one major effect on drug trafficking. It successfully pushed control of the supply chain to a place where American law couldn’t reach it – Mexico. Now, the Mexican government is completely unable to deal with an illegal industry that pulls in tens of billions of dollars per year from American drug consumption. This has had devastating effects on Mexico’s economy and even more dire consequences for its security.
3. Keeping drugs out the hands of children – Without a regulated market for recreational drugs, the supply chains are run by criminal organizations who have zero incentive to keep drugs out of the hands of children. This has led to a situation where children have greater access to dangerous drugs, and even worse, often become easily dispensible pawns to be used for risky border crossings and other dangerous situations. You can solve both of these problems by setting up regulated markets for drugs.
4. Improving public health – Drug abuse and mental illness are two very costly health problems that feed off of each other. Our emphasis on incarcerating people in order to combat drug addiction doesn’t work and it makes the problem worse. Decriminalization of personal drug use is a vital first step in reducing the public health costs associated with addiction. Allowing doctors to prescribe drugs to addicts is another necessary step on this path, along with needle exchanges and other effective ways to mitigate the effects of drug addiction on our overall public health. In countries where these tactics have been done, they’ve been extraordinarily successful, both at reducing public health problems and lowering drug abuse rates.
5. Setting an example for how other countries can help reduce global organized crime and terrorism – When it comes to the divide in international drug law reform, the United States is on the same side as countries like Iran, Russia, and China, and opposed to countries like Switzerland, Portugal, and Canada, who’ve had greater success in dealing with drug addiction. The result is that the demand for illegal drugs (primarily heroin) is fueling the resurgence in the power of Islamic radicalism in Pakistan in a very similar fashion to how American drug consumption has been fueling Mexican drug gangs. It’s vital that we switch sides in this debate and start working with the countries that are boldly using reason, compassion, and empiricism to deal with this issue and reduce the demand for heroin. As the numbers of drug users rise dramatically in emerging nations like China, an inability to keep that money from flowing to people who view the western world as their enemy will be truly catastrophic.
– Frosty Woolridge, whose brother Howard is a former Michigan police officer and now the main lobbyist for LEAP in Washington DC working to end drug prohibition, posts some of Howard’s most compelling justifications for treating marijuana the same way we treat alcohol:
“Almost all of you reading this will have either been searched for marijuana or know someone who has. My profession has certainly changed its motto from ‘Protect and Serve’ to ‘Search and Arrest.’ A vehicle search will require two officers. Most officers operate alone, thus a colleague must be brought over from a neighboring district to assist. If a 911 call goes out in that district, the response time will be longer than necessary. Ditto for the district where the officer is searching the car. Reduction in Public Safety!
“The average search will require close to 60 minutes of total police time. So 750,000 possession cases equal only ¾ of a million hours, right? Wrong! According to my colleagues back in Bath Township, Michigan who spent most of their 12 hour shifts looking to bust the next Michael Phelps, they search an average of 15 cars to find one with a baggie. Now we are up to about 11 million hours or the equivalent of 5,500 street officers who do nothing but arrest the Willie Nelson’s of the world. Reduction in Public Safety!
Using a conservative figure of five hours per dealer bust, we are adding about 1.5 million more hours wasted. The hard number to calculate is how many hours are spent flying around in helicopters, locate an MJ garden and then spend a day cutting down the plants and airlifting them out….all without busting anyone. Now you have a clearer picture of the horrific amount of police time spent. Reduction in Public Safety!
“Wait! We are not done. These 845,000 MJ cases go to the lab that must show that the green stuff really is pot. Labs around the country are over-loaded with drug cases. Since drugs are the most important, guess what cases are not being processed? Rape kits & their DNA. According to National Public Radio and unrefuted, 400,000 rape kits some years old have never been opened. Rapists are running loose as labs process Willie’s last possession with intent to smoke bust. Reduction in Public Safety!
“Pop Quiz. According to our FBI, which crime receives more agent time: marijuana or child pornography? No brainer, right? And you are wrong! When FBI Director Mueller was asked by a not too happy Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz last year in a House hearing about the pitiful number of FBI agents (33 full-time equivalent) involved in kiddy porn crimes, his response was no new agents, no shifting of resources, nothing, nada, zip. IMO the expression on his face was ‘let them eat cake.’ Obviously he was never a street cop like me who has gently interviewed 7 year old rape victims and then arrested their tormentors. My blood is boiling as I write this, BTW. Reduction in Public Safety!
“Who else is unhappy with this criminal mis-direction of police resources? Some members of MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. They will admit in private that the millions of street cop hours could be refocused & spent reducing deaths due to DUI by thousands. In public they are forced by funders to support MJ prohibition but in private they told me they support ending marijuana prohibition.
“The No Illegal Entry Into the USA groups are now opening their eyes to the fact that MJ prohibition means millions of extra border crossings. Why? Federal agents like ICE and Border Patrol have as their #1 priority federal (Title 21) drug laws. #2 is the catching of illegal entry. So, they literally will let 100 illegals coming thru without hindrance to stop one guy with a 60 pound backpack of grass. Experienced agents have informed me that absent the smuggling of pot with today’s manpower and technology, they could almost stop illegal entry across the southern border.
The emphasis two paragraphs above is mine. I’m very curious to know who’s actually running MADD and why they have such a strong stake in keeping marijuana illegal.