Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

July 29, 2007 - Press-Enterprise (CA)

Column: DEAsy Pickings

By: Dan Bernstein

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

I never realized the Drug Enforcement Agency gets the summer blahs, just like everybody else. But I happened to be talking with a friend who knows all about this stuff.

"Most people think all the DEA does is bust up international cartels, crawl through tunnels, raid warehouses at major ports, take down drug lords, yadda, yadda."

"Sounds like a tough job."

"It is a tough job. Sometimes, they need a change of pace."

"Maybe they could go after drunk astronauts."

"Out of their jurisdiction. But they did launch Operation Low-Hanging Fruit."

"Never heard of it."

"Ever hear of medical marijuana dispensaries?"

"Who hasn't?"

"Low-hanging fruit. Everyone knows where these places are. Everybody knows what they do. They operate in broad daylight. In shopping centers! They might as well set up a booth in the DEA lobby. Oh, and the 'customers' aren't exactly armed and dangerous."

"So busting dispensaries is kind of a working holiday for the DEA?"

"You know how miserable it gets here in the summer. This is not the time to be rooting around in some ship hold, sniffing out Afghan opium."

"This is the time to be picking low-hanging fruit?"

"Now you're getting it. They make the busts. They make the headlines. And they get paid. Nobody gets hurt."

"Except maybe the people who can't get their marijuana."

"We're in a drug war. When you're in a war, there's always collateral damage."

"I've never thought of cancer patients that way before."

"Hey, I'm not saying those medical marijuana folks aren't feeling a little under the weather. AIDS, multiple halitosis or however you say it -- the DEA boys will be the first to tell you it's the pits. But it's not like those folks caught glaucoma from the DEA. The DEA's just enforcing the law."

"And we're right in the middle of summer."

"Think of the heat rash. And jock itch. To you and me, they're minor annoyances. To the DEA, they're occupational hazards. Those heavy vests. All that gear. You'll never hear a word of complaint. But you're not going to hear them gripe if they get sent to a marijuana dispensary in July, either."

"Low-hanging fruit?"

"Air-conditioned offices, convenient parking, daytime hours. The people who get arrested usually have most of their teeth."

"I guess the DEA deserves a little R&R this time of year."

"Glad to see you're coming around. But it could be even better."

"It could?"

"There are only so many pothead dispensaries. Pretty soon they'll all be shut down."

"Then it's back to the tunnels, cartels and ship holds."

"Right. Too bad the DEA doesn't go after the real problem."

"The astronauts?"

"The marijuana users! If it weren't for them, these dispensaries wouldn't exist."

"I see your point."

"Maybe they'd suck it up and live with a little pain if we booked them into jail and held them for a few days. Not that it would be pleasant to watch an epileptic do the perp walk."

"But it would keep the DEA in the low-hanging fruit business."

"Just get them through September. Then it starts to cool down."

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact