Protecting and serving?
There would be less violent crime in the U.S. today if law
enforcement focused more on violent crime. Valuable police resources
are squandered each year processing marijuana arrestees through
the courts and jails that could instead be used to confine violent
criminals. Last year 704,812 people were arrested in the U.S.
for marijuana-related charges. There were more marijuana arrests
in 2000 than for murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaultcombined!
Almost 80,000 more!
No matter how we do the math, the energy spent on processing
people for marijuana possession is time and money taken away
from apprehending and incarcerating violent lawbreakers. Marijuana
users are less confrontational than murderers, robbers, muggers
and rapists and, consequently, easier to nab. But searching and
seizing is being conducted at the expense of protecting and serving.
Law enforcement should fully utilize publicly funded resources
to protect the citizens they serve from becoming victims of violence,
rather than wasting money and personnel on victimless marijuana
No arrests for cannabis possession in UK
"Taking one person off the streets for possession of
marijuana in London takes one police officer off the streets
for as long as six hours," said Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Sir John Stevens in an AP report. Rather than arresting those
caught with small amounts of cannabis in London's high-crime
neighborhood of Lamberth, police now seize personal amounts from
marijuana users and issue warnings.
The experimental program was implemented to reduce serious crimes
by recovering the time, energy and money spent on an endless
procession of marijuana smokers through the police station. Commissioner
Stevens said, "possession and use of cannabis is not a priority."
The policy allows officers to focus on protecting the citizenry
from predatory criminals without the added expense of augmenting
law enforcement resources. The expected success of the pilot
program in Lamberth will warrant implementation throughout the
rest of the city, according to Scotland Yard. And though most
members of Parliament avoid the issue of outright cannabis decriminalization,
80 percent of Britons are in favor of it, according to a poll
commissioned by the Guardian last October.
U.S. Attorney says war on drugs is a failure
Before U.S. Attorney Daniel French was asked to resign by
the Bush Administration, much of his time was consumed with prosecuting
drug crimes in the Northern District of New York that comprises
over half of the state's 62 counties. French a democratic appointee,
left office on June 1 in compliance with a White House request
that departed from the tradition of allowing U.S. attorneys to
complete their term with a new administration.
Throughout his career as U.S. Attorney, Assistant U.S. Attorney
and law clerk in U.S. District Court, French saw hundreds of
convicted drug dealers sentenced to prison for thousands of collective
years. But to his dismay, there never seemed to be a shortage
of new drug dealers ready to take their placeno matter
how many millions of dollars were spent on investigating, prosecuting
and incarcerating. The former prosecutor didn't say the war on
drugs is a total waste of time, money and lives, in a report
by Ed Perkins of the Watertown Daily Times, but he may as well
"If you judge the war on drugs by the number of people using
narcotics, it would be difficult to say we are winning the war
on drugs," the former U.S. Attorney said. For every drug
dealer prosecuted in his district, ample opportunists arose to
ensure that the supply of illegal drugs continued unabated. French
calls for increased funding for treatment to slow the demand
for drugs. He insists that under current U.S. policy taxpayers
are unwitting employers for drug dealers and are paying their
unconscionable prohibition-inflated wages.
"You could draw the conclusion that we are an employment
agency for new drug dealers," French said. Failed U.S. drug
policies are the primary catalyst for the $500 billion underground
economy in illegal drugs each year, which continues to attract
the best and brightest in the business.
RAND Institute just says no to drug war
The United States has increased allotted drug war spending
more than three times since the1980s from $10 billion annually
to $35 billion in the late 1990s. Drug Policy Research Director
Peter Reuter of the RAND Institute authored a shaming report
confirming what is common knowledge to anyone paying attention:
U.S. policy has failed to reduce the availability of drugs. Law
enforcement watches helplessly as drugs become increasingly available
and affordable while the cost of interdiction and incarceration
escalate. The report from the major think tank is simply more
evidence against drug warriors loathe to see their drug dollars
reapportioned to policies that actually worknamely,
decriminalization and the medical model of treatment and prevention.
Crime in the crime-lab
The State Patrol crime-lab in Marysville, Washington is one
of six in the state that analyzes confiscated drugs. Officer
Michael Hoover worked in the lab directly across from his supervisor
testing drug samples from Western Washington police agencies.
It seems Hoover's favorite drug test was for heroin. Fellow officers
noticed that the eleven-year State Patrol veteran was disproportionately
handling cases involving the drug. An internal investigation
ensued with a hidden camera focused on Hoover at his workstation
for several days. He was captured on tape "palming vials,
hiding samples around his desk and otherwise worked secretively,"
reported the Seattle Times.
Hoover resigned in March and pled guilty to tampering with physical
evidence, official misconduct and stealing heroin for months;
but there is no way to know how long the former officer's craving
for heroin had been satiated by confiscated heroin. He faces
up to two years imprisonment.
Prosecutors have dismissed hundreds of cases in six counties
that relied upon evidence Hoover analyzed. Evidence from a crime-scene
must be carefully handled from the time it is seized until presented
as evidence in court. People convicted on charges involving the
tampered evidence have been released from prison and others awaiting
trial have gone home. Thousands of convictions could be affected
if Hoover's drug habit began years ago, rather than the few months
cited by prosecutors.
Officer Hoover underwent a rigorous screening process that included
a polygraph test concerning past drug use when hired in 1989.
Marijuana suspects flash-banged
Maria Mayor never worried about leaving her house in Pinellas
County, Florida after moving to Michigan because responsible
tenants were renting the home that had been in her family since
childhood. She never had to worry, that is, until she returned
home to survey the damage done by police in a marijuana raid.
The home where she stayed as a youth on holidays, summer vacations
and most weekends is now a blackened foundation.
Police said confidential informants repeatedly bought marijuana
from tenants at the house; so to be safe, officers used a "flash-bang"
grenade when they stormed the home. Used in high-profile cases
as the Branch Davidian raid in Waco, Texas, the flash-bang produces
a loud noise and a bright flash designed to distract and disorient
suspects. Police admitted dropping the flash-bang down a stairwell
during the raid as the tenants reportedly fled to the building's
first floorwhere the music studio was located. The
soundproofing material on the walls caught fire immediately and
burned the home to the ground. Maria Mayor demands an apology
from the police and filed a claim against the city for the appraised
value of $31,000.
The recording studio belonged to a tenant who was not named in
the search warrant. Filing a claim against the city, his attorney
said the value of the recording equipment and recordings "could
be upwards of $100,000," reported the Tampa Tribune. Taxpayers,
as usual, will pick up the tab for drug war excess.
Police spokesman Rick Stelljes defended the use of the flash-bang.
"We didn't go out there with the intention of setting the
house on fire." Mayor's attorney said police were negligent.
"Just the logic of using such a device in this type of situation
seems suspect to us." No arrests were made because if marijuana
was in the house, as police insist, it went up in smoke with
Guns and garden shows
A militarized engagement calling upon the National Guard,
the Virginia State Police and the Middle Peninsula Drug Task
Force was organized to escalate the war on drugs in Virginia.
Flying over Middlesex in a loud, green helicopter, the seasoned
marijuana spotter and pilot zeroed in on a lucrative plot and
began circling. Ground units were on the way, guns drawn and
ready for action.
Glen Coberly was tending his garden with a friend when a heavily
armed military police force invaded his property and yelled for
them to lie face down on the ground. As their rights were being
read, the perimeter secured and the immediate danger of the raid
had passed, one brave drug warrior relaxed enough to enjoy the
Tomatoes? They looked to be about the right color from the air,
the pot spotter defended squeamishly. And what color would that
be, may we ask--green? Sheriff Guy Abbott apologized for the
mistake and said, "We're just trying to do our best to protect
our citizens," quoted the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Olympic pill junkies
Olympic athletes are under a lot of pressure to bring home
gold, silver and bronze to their respective countries. Rigorous
routines dominate the lives of Olympians and the intense pressure
has prompted athletes to resort to performance-enhancing drugs
like anabolic steroids and stamina-enhancers.
Dr. Patrick Schamasch, the International Olympic Committee's
medical director, oversees the mandatory urine tests used to
ensure that athletes are drug free. Before the samples are collected,
athletes must declare the legal substances they have taken in
the preceding three days. With these disclosures, officials have
discovered some of the most heavily medicated people on the planet.
One athlete was taking 29 different pills before last year's
Summer Games in Sydney, and the average was 6 pills per athlete
in a study of more than 2,000 competitors. Even the average taken
by athletes was enough to convince Schamasch that something was
seriously wrong. "That's a huge number," quoted the
AP on the second day of weeklong International Olympic Committee
meetings in July. "That is a concern, that the athletes
are consuming huge amounts of medications." Cold tablets,
decongestants, vitamins, anti-inflammatories and food supplements
are among the legal drugs that athletes abuse regularly. Dr.
Schamasch said the most he would ever prescribe would be two,
maybe three of these drugs at a time to avoid dangerous reactions.
It's apparent that government cannot begin to eliminate all
the substances that people use to get high. The illegal drugs
that prohibition policy seeks to eliminate are as affordable
and available as ever, while getting high on common legal substances
is dangerously on the rise. Funeral homes in Louisiana and New
York, say officials, have reported thefts of embalming fluid,
presumably used for soaking cigarettes which, after drying, can
Costing about $20, called a "wet," "fry,"
"illy" and half a dozen other street names nationwide,
the poison is found in embalming fluid, nail care products and
school science labs. "Wets" are showing up in inner
cities, upscale neighborhoods and college campuses, according
to AP reports. Kids are smoking formaldehyde.
The affects depend on what chemicals the cigarettes are soaked
in. Embalming fluid is a compound of formaldehyde, methanol,
ethanol and other solvents. PCP is sometimes a component and
has been called embalming fluid on the streets since the 1970s.
What, no gateway drug?
Only 78 percent of high school seniors said "no"
to marijuana from 1996 to 1999, according to findings published
by the federal government's National Institute of Justice. An
upswing in marijuana use among high school seniors--beginning
in 1992 and reaching a high in 1996 and holding at 22 percent--prompted
the declaration of a "new nationwide epidemic" of marijuana
use among teens. But this "epidemic," researchers admit,
has been responsible for the decline in drug use. That's right,
a decline in the use of hard drugs among teens was recorded,
as marijuana became the illicit drug of choice.
While the popularity of marijuana escalated in the 1990s, the
use of both heroin and crack cocaine dropped significantly. Could
this mean the "gate" in the "gateway drug"
never really opened; hinges rusted, maybe, or the latch froze
shut? Or, did the gate ever exist in the first place? The government's
insistence that marijuana leads to hard drugs is just another
federal deception that backfired at the expense of our children.
The increase in pot use is "good news,'' says Drs. Andrew
Golub and Bruce D. Johnson, report authors who interpret the
data as a probable "rejection of crack and heroin due to
their potentially devastating consequences." Fortunately,
teenagers got the message without the help of the DEA: mainlining
heroin is not the same as puffing on a joint, despite drug war
propaganda declaring that all Schedule I drugs are equally addictive
and deadly. For those with a propensity to use drugs it seems
that marijuana has not been a "gateway" to hard drugs,
but a deterrent.
The report is based on data from the national Arrestee Drug Abuse
Monitoring program, which tracks drug use among arrestees in
large U.S. cities through urine samples. Golub and Johnson examined
data collected between 1987 and 1999 on more than 300,000 arrestees
in 23 cities and used information from two national surveys to
gauge marijuana trends in the general population.