The Lethality of Marijuana Prohibition

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Andrew Sullivan chides Obama for his churlish response to questions about decriminalizing marijuana earlier today. Sullivan writes that the issue is “deadly serious.”

James Poulous then mocks Sullivan for elevating pot prohibition to “deadly serious” status.

I like Poulous. But his derision is misplaced. There have been 7,000 homicides in Mexico over the last two years, the vast majority directly related to black market drug trade. Seventy percent of Mexico’s black market drug rade is marijuana.

If Poulous wants to stick closer to home, one of his commenters notes that had Cheye Calvo exercised his Second Amendment rights when Prince George’s County police wrongly raided his home last summer on the mistaken assumption he was dealing marijuana, he’d almost certainly be dead. Instead, he was merely terrorized, and his dogs were slaughtered. A couple of weeks ago, unarmed Grand Valley State student Derek Kopp was shot in the chest during a marijuana raid. He’s lucky to be alive.

But we don’t need to single out “almost” cases. Det. Jarrod Shivers is dead and Ryan Frederick’s life is ruined over the prohibition of pot. Officer Ron Jones is dead, and Cory Maye, once sentenced to be executed, now faces a life sentence because of marijuana prohibition. Cheryl Lynn Noel is dead because of pot prohibition. So are Jose Colon, Tony Martinez, 13-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, Willie Heard, Christie Green, Pedro Navarro, Barry Hodge, Salvador Hernandez, Donald Scott, Kenneth Baulch, Dep. John Bananola, Officer Tony Patterson, Vincent Hodgkiss, Anthony Diotaiuto, Clayton Helriggle, Jeffery Robinson, Troy Davis, Alexander “Rusty” Windle, John Hirko, Scott Bryant, Robert Lee Peters, Manuel Ramirez, and Bruce Lavoie. Deputies James Moulson and Phillip Anderson and suspect George Timothy Williams were all killed in a single marijuana raid in Idaho in 2001. Officer Arthur Parga and Manuel Ramirez (a different one) killed one another in another marijuana raid after a family friend suspected of dealing marijuana had incorrectly given police Ramirez’s address as his own.

These are just some of the deaths associated with marijuana raids (all summarized, with sources, here).  Then there is the domestic black market violence that comes with marijuana prohibition. And the unnecessary deaths of sick people (like Peter McWilliams) who might have lived if they’d had access to medical marijuana.

So yeah. I think “deadly serious” is about right, actually.

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57 Responses to “The Lethality of Marijuana Prohibition”

  1. #1 |  Realist | 

    Re: drug testing

    My opinion has always been if the only way you can tell someone is using drugs is by testing their urine, then maybe drug use isn’t quite as awful and bad and dangerous as our keepers would have us believe. You’d think something that vicious and life-ruining would be a little more obvious, wouldn’t you?

  2. #2 |  Neal | 

    First, there has been a few here that believe the myths, pot makes people lazy, everyone would smoke, it’s a gateway drug….

    These are myths. Get the truth. The only negative thing about smoking marijuana is that it’s not good for your lungs if you smoke it.

    He’s right, it’s a national shame.

  3. #3 |  Drasties - Dutch on the World - World on the Dutch | 

    […] insistence on criminalizing and imprisoning non-violent drug offenders (when we’re not doing worse to them). That is an issue most politicians are petrified to get anywhere near, as evidenced just this […]

  4. #4 |  Joe Blow | 

    “We can’t urinate in the streets, nor can we drink alcohol, have sex, or masturbate. But none of those activities is illegal if done in the privacy of one’s own home.”

    wait! masturbation is not illegal?

  5. #5 |  Hays00s | 

    James Brown. post #3, is everything that is wrong and evil in our country. All his post is stereotypes based off movies and propoganda, but acting like they have a reasoned arguement without any personal experience. I have personal experience, I’ve seen people do coke on the weekends and excel at their 9-5 day job. I’ve met potheads who have had the same job for years, and who take care of thier kids. I’ve also seen my own family be slaves to legal alcohol, losing jobs, some have turned abusive and had to have their kids removed.

    The time to ignorance is over, it’s why our society is so messed up right now, because of these holier-than-thou biggots that are scared of anything marring their perfect little upper middle class world. I bet James Brown is religious too. Of course, to soothe their fears, they oppress half the population and ruin lives, KILL PEOPLE, all so that they can feel right.

    If pot were legal, why would we allow people to walk down the road smoking joints if you can be arrested for walking down the road drinking 100% legal beer? PUBLIC INTOXICATION maybe? So you really think that if weed is legal, they will simply declare all laws void and begin an anarchist state? C’mon, it would be regulated, how else could they suck up all the tax money from it? The blantant stupidity is astounding, James brown, you should be ashamed of yourself for showing how infantile your mind is.

  6. #6 |  Concerned Parent | 

    Three talking points for conversations with news people or politicians:
    1) Between the money spent on finding, arresting, prosecuting, and locking up marijuana users AND the lost opportunity for tax revenue on the individual’s purchase of this widely used product, our national pocketbook is losing out on tens of billions of dollars every year.
    2) To collect taxes from the grow-your-own community, we could consider a $100 per year permit for a dozen plants, splitting the proceeds between the Federal government and the participating State(s).
    3) It’s time to put the criminal drug dealers out of business and let ordinary Americans pay a fee to grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.

  7. #7 |  GTony | 

    Um, #3, have you ever been around pot smoke? The smell, unlike that of cigarettes, doesn’t linger or stick to one’s clothes. If our laws were based on how something smelled, department store perfume sections would be the first targets for zero-tolerance enforcement, and then cigarettes would still beat out marijuana by miles, in terms of raunchy odors. Maybe we could finally get the blasted incense out of the head shops!

    As for explaining to your kid why the person in the next car is smoking a joint, I’d much rather explain that than tell them that we’re sitting in traffic because everyone is too selfish to know how to merge, and that the people in the cars around us probably aren’t *#$^*@#s when they’re not driving. I’d much rather share a freeway with stoners than with coffee drinkers, for example.