Oh, surely now, isn’t that an overstatement? Mass murder? After all, it’s a complicated subject, and we need to be careful about it.
I would double down, and say NO, in fact, it is actually a huge understatement and it would be obvious if so many of our institutions weren’t morally, intellectually, scientifically, medically, journalistically, politically, ethically and spiritually bankrupt. (Did I miss anyone?)
Right now we are living (and/or dying) through a pandemic that is the result of the failure of virtually all of our institutions, and if we cannot now see how this is happening, then it’s only a matter of time before we will all lose our freedom, if not our lives. And we cannot blame a virus.
Now let’s quantify the problems.
Since 1965, there have been more than 27,229,000 marijuana arrests in the U.S. alone as of 2018. Roughly 90 percent were for simple possession.
And the beat goes on. According to the FBI, there were 663,367 marijuana arrests in 2018. That’s one every 48 seconds, despite the fact that there are now 11 states where marijuana is legal for adults.
That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrested for the commission of violent crimes (521,103), and again, 90 percent (608,776) were arrested for marijuana possession only.
If police resources have any value, and obviously they do, then consider just the waste inherent in those numbers. Are the police saving lives when they are arresting marijuana users? Or are they failing to protect the public and actually fostering black market violence that costs lives?
Prohibitionists like to argue that most people don’t go to prison for marijuana possession, which is true, but the consequences of being arrested vary enormously from place to place and by race and social status.
Yes, I have known people for whom being arrested was a minor embarrassment, and maybe even something to brag about, but I have known many more for whom it was a disaster, and even an extrajudicial death sentence. They lost their jobs, their family support, and access to the plant that was keeping them alive.
Remember, the criminal justice system is where the consequences of marijuana prohibition are most visible or perhaps just the least hidden. (Have you previously read about the arrest data? Did you see it on either Fox or MSNBC? Have you heard about it from a speaker on social justice? And again this is most quantifiable data.)
Obviously, no one knows the number of people who have died (or committed suicide) as a result of being denied access to an effective antiemetic during chemotherapy, or help with other medical conditions. And no one will ever know, but I will never forget the people who told me that they hadn’t tried to kill themselves since they had found that marijuana helped them.
And how many sick and dying people have suffered and died because research on the medical potential of cannabis has been and continues even now to be suppressed by the U.S. government?
And where are the protests from the “scientific community” who keep saying that we need more research before we can stop arresting people? And where are the scientists doing research on the consequences of arresting millions of people? These millions of arrests are the de facto consequences of the medical and scientific acquiescence to marijuana prohibition.
As Martin Luther King said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
The Soviet Union was notorious for the “knock in the middle of the night.” But at least the KGB knocked. Not in the Land of the Free…
Why do the very serious people who are supposedly our leaders remain silent about such quantified state violence? It really is simply low-intensity state terrorism that is the reality of the decades of marijuana prohibition.
Is it because they think that being taken seriously is more important than being serious? President Obama (and Vice President Biden, who is oddly popular in the African American community) presided over the arrests of hundreds of thousands of young African Americans. Frankly, I find that incomprehensible. And reprehensible.
Of course, President Trump likes to complain about the “Deep State” being a threat to freedom, but he will have presided over more than 2 million marijuana arrests by the end of 2020.
Remember former New York City Mayor (January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2013) Mike Bloomberg, and the debate over his so-called “Stop and Frisk” policy during his billion dollar presidential campaign?
Bloomberg apologized for the policy, saying that he had not realized the problems it caused in minority communities, but everyone went along with his pretense it was all about guns and violent crime in minority neighborhoods.
In fact, very few of the people “stopped and frisked” had guns, but the New York Police Department made over 400,000 marijuana arrests under Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk policy.
New York City has had decriminalization on its books for four decades, but became known as the marijuana arrest capital of the country. Rather than ticketing low level marijuana offenders, city police for over a decade have been taking advantage of a separate statute, NY State Penal Law 221.10, which makes it a criminal misdemeanor to possess pot if it is “open to public view.” According to an investigation last year by New York City public radio station WNYC, it was determined that City cops routinely conduct warrantless “stop-and-frisk” searches of civilians, find marijuana hidden on their persons, and then falsely charge them with possessing pot “open to public view.”
So the NYPD wasn’t just “enforcing law,” but even now with legalization being mainstream, the American media, right, left, and center, almost all based in New York City, still cannot or will not honestly report on hundreds of thousands of marijuana arrests, even in the context of a presidential campaign.
And why do conservatives who rightly see big government as a threat to freedom, ignore the largest manifestation of government violence against peaceful citizens? They claim they are being “Conservative” and prattle about “States Rights,” except for marijuana prohibition?
And then there is just absurdity. Some of the states that have more or less legalized marijuana or nervously debating whether to allow “on premise consumption.” One might think they were debating nuclear weapons tests in schoolyards. Think of the children!
For over 40 years, the Dutch have had retail sales and on premise consumption of cannabis (minimum age: 18) in “coffee shops” in virtually every city in the country, and they have a lower rate of cannabis use (8 percent) than the U.S. (16 percent.)
However, what is really important is that they have a much lower rate of hard drug (heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, etc) than the U.S. or the U.K., because they have “separated the markets” for cannabis and hard drugs.
In 2017 alone, there were 70,237 recorded drug overdose deaths in the U.S., and of those deaths, 47,600 involved an opioid. Currently, an estimated 130 people every day in the United States die from an opioid-related drug overdose.
Compare that with 262 deaths from all drugs in the Netherlands. The population of the U.S. is roughly 330 million vs The Netherlands with 17 million, so the U.S. death rate is almost 10 times the Dutch.
Finally, there is the impact of marijuana prohibition on the rest of the world. It has created even more of the same problems, but in countries where law enforcement is even more corrupt, the health care systems are even more fragile, and the need for low cost natural medicines are even more desperate.
And we like to call America the “Leader of the Free World.” Now that is an overstatement!
Marijuana Prohibition Is Mass Murder. End Marijuana Prohibition Now!
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and is a co-founder of CBDSeniors.com.