National news networks, Sarah Palin and a small town mayor are questioning arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana (see links below).
We have endless conversations on this site and others about the legalization of marijuana. We have consistently said three things:
- People should not be arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana-we have more important priorities and shrinking budgets
- People (without extensive criminal histories) should never serve time in jail or prison for possession for the same reasons
- However, if marijuana is legalized, we believe that it would cause an endless array of problems for society. Crime and treatment admissions would go up. Auto accidents and abuse cases would increase.
But there seems to be a contradiction. If we don’t want people to enter the criminal justice system for personal use of marijuana, and if we (writers at this site) feel that legalization could prove disastrous, then what should we do?
The solution is an unspoken agreement among individual police officers and command staff for decades; don’t arrest people for possessing small amounts of pot.
Look, police officers need to be available for the big stuff and missing kids and robberies and domestic violence cases and terrible automobile accidents are far more important. Arrests for the small stuff just gets in the way.
Wait, you say, people are arrested for possessing marijuana all the time. Well, parole and probation offenders shouldn’t do drugs and people who cause trouble are going to be arrested for pot possession; officers are going to arrest those making society miserable or unsafe for any reason (as they should).
Plus, marijuana is connected to lots of crimes (i.e., the idiot who assaults a woman while possessing several joints). E-mails from advocates will say that this statement is preposterous. Proponents are unwilling to discuss the well-established research about the dangers of marijuana use. Most advocates won’t even admit there is established research warning of dangers.
But it’s no secret that police officers dump lots of alcohol and small amounts of marijuana on the roadside all the time (during interactions for small scale events) and have been doing so for decades. Cops making arrests solely for marijuana possession are often mistrusted by their brethren for not being available for major calls where lives are at risk.
So the quotes below are interesting but very old news. As the budget crisis within the criminal justice system grows more acute (if that’s possible) you will begin to see lots of arrests for small-time events drop off.
The universal agreement that police officers need to be ready to respond to what’s important is causing others to chime in and state that pot possession is a “crime” we can no longer afford to enforce.
Crime in Amnerica.Net
“Could it be the Mayberry of marijuana? Pot smokers and civil libertarians won a victory in a small Idaho town Monday when the mayor announced that cannabis use on private property was officially the lowest police priority. “This has not been easy, but I think that we have come up with something that works for those on both sides of this issue,” said Hailey Mayor Rick Davis at a City Council meeting, reports Tony Evans of the Idaho Mountain Express. “This means that Hailey police will not go out and actively look for people smoking pot on private property — but they never have,” Mayor Davis said afterward.
Former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday night that law enforcement should not focus its energy on the “minimal problem” of marijuana.
Palin made the comment during an appearance on the Fox Business Network with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).
The libertarian Paul said enforcing marijuana restrictions specifically and the war on drugs more generally is a “useless battle,” a point Palin somewhat agreed with, though she was clear that she does not support legalization.
More on marijuana from Crime in America.Net