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New York’s War on Marijuana

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Posted on Aug 10, 2009
New York
Flickr / geoftheref

By Harry G. Levine, AlterNet

This article was published previously on AlterNet.org.

There are two things that need to be understood about marijuana arrests in New York City.

First, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is not a crime in New York State. Since 1977 and passage of the Marijuana Reform Act, state law has made simple possession of less than seventh-eights of an ounce of pot a violation, like a traffic violation.  One can be given a ticket and fined $100 for marijuana possession, but not fingerprinted and jailed.  For over thirty years, New York State has formally, legally, decriminalized possession of marijuana.

Second, despite that law, since 1997 the New York City Police Department has arrested 430,000 people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, mostly teenagers and young people in their twenties.  Most people arrested were not smoking pot.  Usually they just carried a bit of it in a pocket.  In 2008 alone, the NYPD arrested and jailed 40,300 people for possessing a small amount of marijuana.  These extraordinary numbers of arrests and jailings, continuing for over twelve years, now make New York City the marijuana arrest capital of the world.

The arrests for marijuana possession first increased dramatically under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  They have continued unabated under Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  By 2008 Bloomberg had arrested more people for pot possession than Giuliani, and more than other mayor in the world.

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Why has the NYPD continued to order narcotics and patrol officers to make so many misdemeanor pot arrests?  For many reasons.  The arrests are easy, safe, and provide training for new officers.  The arrests gain overtime pay for patrol and narcotics police and their supervisors.  The pot arrests allow officers to show productivity, which counts for promotions and choice assignments.  Marijuana arrests enable the NYPD to obtain fingerprints, photographs and other data on many young people they would not otherwise have in their criminal justice databases.  And there is very little public criticism and thus far no political opposition to New York City’s marijuana arrest crusade.

Do the pot arrests reduce serious and violent crimes?  No, if anything they increase other crimes.  Professors Harcourt and Ludwig at the University of Chicago Law School analyzed NYPD data and concluded that the pot possession arrests took officers off the street and distracted them from other crime-fighting activities.  "New York City’s marijuana policing strategy," they reported, "is having exactly the wrong effect on serious crime – increasing it, rather than decreasing it.”  Veteran police officers agree terming the possession arrests "a waste of time."  The arrests drain resources not just of police, but also of courts, jails, prosecutors and public defenders.

Perhaps most appalling is who the police are arresting for marijuana possession.  U.S. government studies have consistently found that young whites use marijuana at higher rates than do young blacks or Latinos.  But the NYPD has long arrested young blacks and Latinos for pot possession at much higher rates than whites.

In 2008, blacks were about 26% of New York City’s population, but over 54% of the people arrested for pot possession.  Latinos were about 27% of New Yorkers, but 33% of the pot arrestees.  Whites were over 35% of the City’s population, but less than 10% of the people arrested for possessing marijuana.  In 2008, police arrested Latinos for pot possession at four times the rate of whites, and blacks at seven times the rate of whites.

Do the arrests violate New York State’s decriminalization law?  Yes and no.  Yes, they certainly violate the spirit and intent of the 1977 law which explicitly sought to eliminate the pot possession arrests and the stigma of criminal records, especially for young people.  And yes, some police, in particular narcotics squads, do make some illegal searches and arrests.

But no, most of the arrests are probably technically legal.  The NYPD has found easy ways to trick or intimidate young people so they allow a search, or even just take out their marijuana and hand it over to the officers.

Here’s how the police do it.  NYPD commanders direct officers to stop and question many young people and make arrests for possessing "contraband."  In 2008, the NYPD made more than half a million recorded stop and frisks and an unknown number of unrecorded stops, disproportionately in black, Latino and low-income neighborhoods.  By far, the most common contraband young people might possess is a small amount of marijuana.

According to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, police are allowed to thoroughly pat down the outside of someone’s clothing looking for a gun, which is bulky and easy to detect.  But police cannot legally search inside a person’s pockets and belongings without permission or probable cause.

However, police officers can legally make false statements to people they stop, and officers can trick people into revealing things.  So in a stern, authoritative voice, NYPD officers will say to the young people they stop:

"We’re going to have to search you.  If you have anything illegal you should show it to us now.  If we find something when we search you, you’ll have to spend the night in jail.  But if you show us what you have now, maybe we can just give you a ticket.  And if it’s nothing but a little weed, maybe we can let you go.  So if you’ve got anything you’re not supposed to have, take it out and show it now.”

When police say this, the young people usually take out their small amount of marijuana and hand it over.  Their marijuana is now "open to public view."  And that – having a bit of pot out and open to be seen – technically makes it a crime, a fingerprintable offense.  And for cooperating with the police, the young people are handcuffed and jailed.


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Tony Wicher's avatar

By Tony Wicher, September 7, 2009 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

By frank1569, August 10 at 10:04 pm #
“Isn’t that why it was made illegal in the first place?
Because the Blacks and Latinos were using it to have
wild sex with innocent, chaste White women in between
pot-induced crime rampages against the God-fearing
White men?”
          x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

There’s no doubt about it. Just watch Reefer Madness.

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By R.S., August 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Is this what Americans want their police to be doing: arresting enormous numbers of young people, disproportionately black and Latino, and destroying their futures, for … pot possession?”
Yes it is.

Before the war on drugs total inmate population in America was ~300,000 people in prisons for everything.
2008 prison population 1 out 100 people are in prison currently, 2.3 million citizens incarcerated since the war on drugs started, that is a 7.6x higher than it was before our war on the population, err I mean drugs. An empty prison is an unprofitable one.

What we spend on the “war on drugs” each year could fund healthcare for every citizen. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Last I heard it was at 40 billion a year, and increasing.

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By Socrateez, August 14, 2009 at 11:36 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pot is Soma in the respect of the passiveness of its users. I am familiar with the role that ssri’s and such play in making people feel happy when they are mired in crap. Pot does that too although differently.
A certain comedian calls it “Fuck-it” Cause thats what most think when using for relief of daily woes.
I should have said it was soma like. Or at the very least it is an augment to the prescription feel goods now in existence that fit that description far better. At any rate, pot culture is pretty passive and complient and the most we do is usually raise our voice and say hey man…that shit aint right. And we toke some more and ponder it.
I take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication for a legitimate medical reason. I prefer pot.

The three side effects of Marijuana:

Happy
Hungry
Sleepy

Oh and i guess a 4th- paranoia. I havent determined if thats the individual, or the fear of reprisal of the taboo violation of using its evilness. lol
Paranoia diminishes with use though for most.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, August 14, 2009 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

BlueEagle—don’t forget that the government-run prisons also constitute a set of constituencies with important interests in criminalizing as much behavior as possible.  One of the biggest supporters of the Drug War are prison guards’ unions, for instance.

The Drug War is the meeting-place not only of sadism and superstition, but ambition and profit as well.

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By cabdriver, August 13, 2009 at 8:54 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Socrateez (comment #1): Cannabis is NOT Aldous Huxley’s “Soma.”

That role is played by SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft- psychotropic drugs which are presently used by an estimated 10% of the population of the USA, despite an array of side effects that make them considerably more hazardous than marijuana.

http://www.mental-health-matters.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1475

SSRIs were originally intended as a remedy for people with serious chronic depression due to biochemichal deficiencies. No one can tell me that 10% of the US population fits that diagnosis.

Marijuana does not tell you everything is okay, when it isn’t. It increases the potential for sensitivity, perceptivity, and self-consciousness of it’s users. That is a property that can either be good or bad, positive or negative, depending on how the user deals with the issues that get brought up for them in that regard.

And those issues are in turn inextricably bound up with the ability of the users to confront or deal with factors such as legal persecution, negative stereotyping of cannabis users, marginalization and exclusion by many employers in various fields, and the manifold penalties and threats exacted against those having the achieved status of “marijuana user/pothead/stoner”, etc.

Unlike a great many other mind-manifesting substances, cannabis is not reliable or merciful as far as mollifying one’s own personal and social hypocrisies. In my observation, people who don’t walk an honest path sooner or later either quit using cannabis, or they counteract and dampen its tendency toward disquieting effects with more powerful substances.

Inappropriately prescribed SSRIs, by contrast, roll out a magic carpet of self esteem atop sheer nothingness. And woe betide anyone who decides they can do without that carpet too quickly.

But since both the initial effect and the eventual habituation are subtle processes, and engendered by lawfully prescribed pills, SSRI users can tell themselves that they aren’t “on something.” Although I’ve had passengers in my cab admit to me that they “partied with Prozac”, and enjoyed the overall effect, especially when mixed with alcohol.

There’s a real con game going on with the American way of drug use these days. I wonder how long it’s going to take to get it sorted out.

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By Socrateez, August 13, 2009 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I have my own opinions obviously on what this war actually is and why it it is. The methods leading to our current state of madness and public lethargy are well known and referenced by many posters comments.

Marijuana is the social control that was named Soma in Brave New World. Why elses would we let this happen while knowing its madness? It’s because politicians and bankers know the truth same as we.

Pot doesnt make you violent, in fact it has the opposite effect on most, making them submissive. It also does not dramatically alter a persons ability to work, drive, or any other function. The only part the American people havent realized is that we are slaves to pot as it was created in our legal system. It is simply control.
Name me one other substance that people will use in spite of legality while working to attain it, and offering up guilt and admission to police when confronted? We pay for the sack, we pay for the rack. And like sheep to boot.
Sounds like a win win situation for whoever oversees the pot trade.
It’s illegality guarantees a high level of use and the persistence of the machine that has evolved around it to grow.
Most states large cities that don’t have medical laws are turning the judicial system into a revolving door-keeping the cash flowing.

In Phoenix, AZ. There is a saying widely known regarding its laws on pot….

“Come to AZ on vacation, and leave on probation.”

The only way i truly see the laws surrounding pot to change dramatically on a national level is if there happens to be a big revenue change for taking a different stance and no political fall out.
In essence, our government has to “Save Face” on the issue of pot. There is no clear way for them to do so while retaining the level of control over usage and assets they enjoy now.
The money would be on the books then and the level of social control (a science I remind you) would be most apparent.
In essence we are being taxed through the machinations already set up while criminalized simultaneously. We are slaves paying for our enslavement.
As a parting thought:
How can the pot market remain stable for decades? Prices arent that different then ten or twenty years ago. Supply and demand are in constant rise in the face of a “war” against it.
It IS regulated from both ends I believe. Supply and demand. Police stats provide input where the market can be tuned. Examine it from a advertisers perspective and the type of data needed to cater to a particular market.
Civil Disobedience will be the last tool to use. By then pot will be a minor issue.
You know what they say in Texas?
“When the Ballot box fails, You grab the ammo box.”
Not many pot driven revolutionaries of that type though are there?

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By rollzone, August 12, 2009 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

hello. “civil liberties and drug reform groups”. there does not presently exist the mechanism by which change takes place in Washington,D.C. . the organizational skills and determination required to stand strong and be heard by Congress: dissipates alike the buzz. the money, the fast-lane to success by policemen, the disproportionate discriminating arrests, the judicial waste of time- there are a hundred good reasons to legalise now. potheads all need to donate $1 to a lawyer willing to take this to the Supreme Court; or do something: instead of what they rely upon- taking another toke.

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By shemp333, August 12, 2009 at 9:19 am Link to this comment

Hippie4ever,

  Thanks for the links and especially the youtube one on how to avoid arrest.  I have been a member of NORML for many years after learning that my ancestors were hemp farmers.  I thought… That makes sense…  I’ve got THC in my DNA!!!  I grew up next to a town named “Hempfield” and knew my family had been farmers in the past.  It wasn’t difficult to find evidence of their hemp cultivation.  They left it to their children in their wills.
  Anyway,  thanks for the info my friend.

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By Folktruther, August 12, 2009 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

Ed Harges- We live under a neoliberal power system where corportions and money rule the government, legal system, and truth system.  Grass is a competitor for alchohol, tobacco, and perscription drugs.  Also hard drugs, a factor since the organized criminal gangs have largely merged with the US power system.  Madoff, for example, was said to be funding hard drugs.

In addition, as was pointed out, the CIA, military, etc uses drug money to buy weapons, and has since Vietnam.  Hard drugs are also a means of social control and very lucrative, a trillion dollar industry. 

Grass is also popular among non-White people.  Therefore the American population, which is highly racist, has been infantalized by fear of being attacked by racial minorities on drugs.  Just one more absurdity instilled in the population thoroughly deluded by the US truth system.

The American people do not realize yet how deeply the US power system has fallen into barbarism.  the historical power delusions instilled by the schools, universities and other learned bureaucracies has obscured present day reality by merging it with a better past. 

Grass is simply one stray irrationality in a sea of irrationality that disguises the increasing and lawless torture, rape and homicide being imposed, primarily, non-White peoples, and increasingly on White people as well.

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By johannes, August 12, 2009 at 2:39 am Link to this comment

If you look to the American society, from outside, whats the problem with smoking a stiky, its nothing criminal, and helps to put down the use of heavy stuf, its more or less to put sand in the eyes of the citizen so they don’t see all the real problems.

I am an old flowerpowerboy from Amsterdan, we have won the war with the bureaucrates, I stopped smoking long a go, but I hate this big brother system, wath grows by the day, we are less and less free in our doings, now they start with our thinkings, and the end is a chip and a dayly pil, as what I wrote before, they let us drink the wather of the Le’the river, so we get lethargicpeople, half sleeping somby’s.


Salutations

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By BlueEagle, August 11, 2009 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

Why it can’t be legalized:

1. The CIA funds most of their covert operations through the drug trade.

2. The large banks (JP Morgan, Citigroup) make lots of money laundering drug money.

3. Private prisons make a lot by incarcerating people over petty crimes.

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By mike112769, August 11, 2009 at 2:55 pm Link to this comment

The police will fight legalization with everything they have. They make too much DIRECT PROFIT from arresting potheads to give it up. Some states allow the police to keep and auction off your vehicle if you are caught with a roach in the ashtray. They are also allowed to keep any money found at the time. I fyou were to leagalize pot, the cops would have to lay off a few brown-shirts. The “war on drugs” is nothing but a scam, used to keep the Public in line.
SAMSON: I am sorry, but America has NEVER been a democracy. It is a republic. If we were a democracy, I bet pot would be legal. Think of how different this country would be if we were allowed to vote on everything that affects us. We could vote on drugs, eliminating the Federal Reserve leeches, abortion, the list goes on and on. Also, if we were a democracy, what would happen to all of those poor politicians who have no real-life skills? I would hate to think of Bush and Obama and all of their ilk starving because they couldn’t find honest work. smile

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By Reverend Lauren Unruh, THC Ministry, August 11, 2009 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The prohibition of pot is based on religion, it is a religiously based discrimination.

People should join my church, start your own chapters and sue the state of New York for the religious discrimination the cops are displaying against potheads and Hippies as a religious and cultural group.

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Ed Harges's avatar

By Ed Harges, August 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

I do not understand why this anti-reefer madness continues. What a colossal waste. Truly our society is out of its mind.

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By hippie4ever, August 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm Link to this comment

Samson, despite California’s Prop 215 and AB420 (no, I’m not making that number up) there are still busts happening regularly in such liberal bastions as San Francisco.

I know, it’s hard to believe, but SFPD has made quite the habit of busting grows in the Sunset district and elsewhere. They can because the law only allows one with a letter of recommendation from a medical doctor, to grow six plants. Cities can override this limit: in Oakland you can grow 75 plants at a time; in Sonoma County as many as can fit into a 10’x10’x10’ space. The SF grows tend to be over 100 plants, while the City allows as many as can fit into a 5’x5’x5’ space.

Then there’s officers’ perception: if your six plants are 15’ each, and cover an entire backyard, they may decide you’ve grown too much. The biggest problem with the law is the quantity allowed is not legally precise: whenever the law is vague law enforcement senses an opportunity. Hopefully Tom Armiano’s bill will answer some of these discrepancies and inconsistencies.

Legalized cannabis is our right and it’s time to retake our government and send the thieves and hypocrites packing!

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Samson's avatar

By Samson, August 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Move to a state with medical marijuana laws.  Get a medical marijuana registry card.

Let the states that won’t respect medical marijuana use wonder why all the best and brightest are leaving. (bye, bye Georgia   ... you ain’t on my mind except as a bad dream, and the road surely don’t lead back to you.)

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By Samson, August 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm Link to this comment

Anyone ever watch the show Homicide?

There was a great video sequence in that show, where the detectives did a long piece where they talked about all the tricks they used.  The big goal is of course a confession.  The intermediate goal was to try to make sure the victim never took the step of asking for a lawyer to be present.

The police will lie to you.  They’ll mislead and confuse you.  They are scored by the number of busts they make, and they want to add you as a notch on their belt.

The worst words you’ll ever hear is when your lawyer tells you you’re screwed because of what you said and/or gave to the police and that because of that there’s little he can do to help you.

Don’t cooperate.  Refuse permission to search.  Stay silent.  Ask for a lawyer.

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By diallo, August 11, 2009 at 12:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another gift to the people of NYC from Rudy.

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By anaman51, August 11, 2009 at 11:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only danger emanating from pot in this country is and has always been the danger that is directly linked to being arrested for it. Police involvement in marijuana has been responsible for more misery than the drug could ever have caused, even if it was the evil, nasty thing that law enforcement falsely portrays it to be. In truth, marijuana is not illegal because it’s bad. It’s bad because it’s illegal. The law is, indeed, an ass.

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By hippie4ever, August 11, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

jackpine, you’re preaching to the choir, lol!

Yes of course I agree completely & that’s implicit in my links; if you haven’t seen “Busted: A Citizen’s Guide to Police Encounters” please do so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqMjMPlXzdA&feature=PlayList&p=CE2B392407513460&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=22

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By redspades, August 11, 2009 at 11:02 am Link to this comment

legalizzze

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By jackpine savage, August 11, 2009 at 10:49 am Link to this comment

Hippy4ever,

Certainly, be polite to the police…treat them as you expect to be treated. But you still shouldn’t help them in any way, even to collect evidence.

The former JAG i mentioned gave the advice in an evidence collection situation. His reasoning was that witnesses often incriminate themselves (sometimes for wholly unrelated offenses) in the process and that the police are trained to look for such openings.

So, politely refuse to cooperate in any way, shape or form. And if all else fails begin reciting the Constitution…you’ll get tazered for it because the police hate nothing so much as the Constitution. It will hurt like hell, but at least you’ll get a good story out of it.

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By hippie4ever, August 11, 2009 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

shemp333, sorry I forgot NORML, the original advocacy group

http://www.norml.org

One should always be nice to the police because they collect the evidence, but being nice doesn’t mean being their b*tch. The State has tried to infantilize the public for many years; they’ve also attempted to get the public used to regular police searches, especially at public events like sports and concerts. That’s social conditioning and it isn’t unintentional.

Practice saying, “I’m sorry officer, but I DO NOT CONSENT TO ANY SEARCHES.”

They’ll huff & puff & threaten to blow your house down: remember to just say no.

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By hippie4ever, August 11, 2009 at 10:13 am Link to this comment

shemp333, check these out:

Political activism:

http://www.safeaccessnow.org/
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/
http://www.marijuana.com/drug-war-headline-news/31195-usa-dea-show-me-money.html
http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/54

Info for Cannabis patients:

http://e-stoned.com/rec/73-Patients-Out-of-Time/
http://www.mjlegal.org/

For honest members of law enforcement:

http://www.leap.cc/cms/index.php

For growing better cannabis and avoiding arrest:

http://www.oaksterdamuniversity.com

To avoid arrest:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqMjMPlXzdA&feature=PlayList&p=CE2B392407513460&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=22

(45 minute video focusing on police “gotcha” techniques and the law.

shemp333, once you begin to organize a funny thing happens: your sense of helplessness diminishes, and you form relationships with others like yourself.

And anybody who thinks Obama and his joke of an AT Eric Holder will make a positive difference regarding the draconian drug laws, is delusional & probably inebriated.

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By Uncle Slam, August 11, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ONE OF THE MOST ACCURATE PIECES TO DATE..
Except
1. Cannabis is a natural plant not a drug
2. Marijuana is a fictional label used to “control”
3. Over 100,000,000 Americans or 1/3 have either used or still use Cannabis daily
4. Chemicals used to grow that Cannabis can be harmful to the health, making this a FDA problem
5. Labeling Cannabis anything other then a benefit to mankind should be criminal and prosecuted in court
6. Any Judge, Lawyer or Policitian who has not attempted to change the current laws is guilty of Obstruction of Justice, and should be imprisioned
7. One page one of the Bible, it states that God made all plants and these plants were good. We just need to find the use, not the abuse.
8. One Cannabis plant can provide enough buds to supply one person for five years vs spending trillions endorsing the prison complex and big business pollution issues.
9. THC is a made up label used to pass illegal laws on what is just another part of a plant

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, August 11, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

’... Is this what Americans want their police to be doing: arresting enormous numbers of young people, disproportionately black and Latino, and destroying their futures, for … pot possession?’

Do you really have to ask that question?

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By shemp333, August 11, 2009 at 9:12 am Link to this comment

I am so tired of being totally pissed off with our government waging war on us,  the American Citizens.  I just don’t know what to do about it.  I feel as though I’ve been shouting into the wind my whole life over this subject.  PLEASE!!!  This drug war needs to be ended for everyones’ liberty to be restored.

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By patahnu, August 11, 2009 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

I’m sitting here thinking about the staggering amount of money that’s made on the number of arrest for possession of pot,and the number of lives it will destroy by flagging them with a criminal record (and its recording JUST arrest,not the outcome. I know, I’m still fighting a case now) , and in cities like nyc, Atlanta,Houston, etc EVERY DAY. It seems that law enforcement with the help of the government is hell bent on keeping a segment of the population as a permanent cash cow. Its more about revenue. In nyc. And the pressessing of the youth,poor and ethnic is just a plus. Question,...who do you tell to bring this to the forefront? And if you do, what are those people going to do? Cities and states could care less about minorities and their ACLU. And where’s the money going? I have more questions on this topic.

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By patahnu, August 11, 2009 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m sitting here thinking about the staggering amount of money that’s made on the number of arrest for possession of pot,and the number of lives it will destroy by flagging them with a criminal record (and its recording JUST arrest,not the outcome. I know, I’m still fight it now) , and in cities like nyc, Atlanta,Houston, etc EVERY DAY. It seems that law enforcement with the help of the government is hell bent on keeping a segment of the population as a permanent cash cow. Its more about revenue. In nyc. And the pressessing of the youth,poor and ethnic is just a plus. Question,...who do you tell to bring this to the forefront? And if you do, what are those people going to do? Cities and states could care less about minorities and their ACLU. And where’s the money going? I have more questions on this topic.

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By jackpine savage, August 11, 2009 at 6:56 am Link to this comment

As any attorney worth his/her salt will tell you: never, ever, f&*king ever cooperate with the police. I’ve even had a former JAG tell me to never cooperate with the police as a witness.

Every last bit of police SOP is an attempt to have you voluntarily waive your rights. Even in the common traffic stop that starts with, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” the goal is for you to forfeit what the 5th Amendment grants you.

Would you cooperate with a street gang? No, then why cooperate with one that’s just highly organized? “To protect and serve” has nothing to do with you or the common good.

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By Rodger Lemonde, August 11, 2009 at 6:33 am Link to this comment

The police are addicted to drugs worse than any other element of the population. The withdrawal of funds tagged to drug control would devastate many police forces.
Police power is out of control. Aren’t we all guilty of eluding the police if we don’t break any laws?

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By NYCartist, August 11, 2009 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

The “stop and frisk” procedure is illegal.
See http://www.nyclu.org  Racial profiling.

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By thebeerdoctor, August 11, 2009 at 1:07 am Link to this comment

Now who is it out there that believes the government is a benevolent force?

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By dani schneider, August 10, 2009 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

my only word’s   stupid!!!!

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By Fredric Dennis Williams, August 10, 2009 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is one of the best articles I have read on the shocking failure of government to act in a way that is responsible and beneficial to the society.

Having read a great many posts that seem to be based on the assumption that more government is better, I can only hope that true progressives recognize that a bigger bureaucracy—federal, state or local—is not the way to improve the lives of the American people and is not the way to set an example for the rest of the world.

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By heavyrunner, August 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

in California our medical marijuana law makes it possible to have pot legally.  The cops seem to respect the law.  I have not heard or read of any simple possession arrests here for years.

To get a prescription you just need to see a doctor who prescribes pot.  It costs about $80 a year to maintain the prescription that makes marijuana legal to possess and purchase.  You get a card that I call the “Jerry Garcia Smoking Club Card.” 

I was in a single car accident in Utah last year.  I was seriously injured and the sheriff or Highway Patrol searched my car with a fine tooth comb when I was in the hospital and found a very tiny amount of marijuana in my medical kit.  I was charged with possession and driving under the influence because apparently they have the right to get some of your blood for testing even when you are unconscious. My Jerry Garcia Smoking Club Card did not get me any formal legal respect, but I think it did help me bargain my charges down to just simple possession of a misdemeanor amount of pot.  They dropped the driving stuff, but I had to pay a $585 fine for possession that did not go on my record anywhere except in Utah.

Drug laws are, in essence, stupid and counterproductive.  Prohibition always fails.

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By Samson, August 10, 2009 at 8:55 pm Link to this comment

In Denver, about 5 years ago, a ballot initiative was passed that repealed the city of Denver’s statute against marijuana.  The police just ignored this exercise in democracy, saying there were state and federal laws against marijuana.

Four years later, a second ballot initiative was passed instructing the city government to make the arrest and prosecution its lowest priority.  Last I’d heard, this had gotten diverted off into some committee to ‘study’ the issue.  Basically, little or nothing has changed.

In Colorado, a medical marijuana amendment to the state constitution was passed in 2000.  But just recently, activists had to beat off an attempt by the State Health Dept to change the rules that govern this in such a way to basically destroy the ability for a medical marijuana patient to buy pot legally.

America is supposedly a democracy.  The most basic definition of a democracy is that power resides with the people.  This is the fundamental idea that underlies both the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.  The power resides with the people.  Elected officials are only representatives of the people and are supposed to be doing what the people want.

Yet, when elected officials repeatedly ignore and subvert the will of the citizens that has been clearly expressed in multiple elections, one has to ask the question, is this really a democracy?

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By samosamo, August 10, 2009 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

Just another part of the program to harrass the people.

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By frank1569, August 10, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Correction: it used to be ‘probable cause.’ The Patriot Act (remember that? still in full effect) changed it to ‘reasonable cause.’

That’s really how the NYPD gets away with their bullshit. Probable cause means there’s evidence of some sort suggesting the probability of illegal activity. Reasonable cause means you’re a young male, either Black and/or Latino - and we all have reason to believe Blacks and Latinos are all potheads. Right? Isn’t that why it was made illegal in the first place? Because the Blacks and Latinos were using it to have wild sex with innocent, chaste White women in between pot-induced crime rampages against the God-fearing White men?

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