The Tragic Death Of Rachel Hoffman — And The Tragedy That Is Pot Prohibition

You can now watch Friday’s excellent 20/20 segment on Rachel Hoffman here. I also have an expanded essay on this tragic situation here.
Rachel Hoffman is dead.
Rachel Hoffman, like many young adults, occasionally smoked marijuana.
But Rachel Hoffman is not dead as a result of smoking marijuana; she is dead as a result of marijuana prohibition.
Under prohibition, Rachel faced up to five years in prison for possessing a small amount of marijuana.
Under prohibition, the police in Rachel’s community viewed her as nothing more than a common “criminal,” and threatened her with years in jail unless she cooperated with them as an untrained, unsupervised confidential informant.
Under prohibition, the law enforcement officers responsible for placing Rachel in the very situation that resulted in her murder have failed to publicly express any remorse — because, after all, under prohibition Rachel Hoffman was no longer a human being deserving of such sympathies.
On Friday, ABC’s 20/20 shed a national spotlight on the tragedy surrounding Rachel Hoffman’s untimely death — and the tragedy that is marijuana prohibition.

Are pot users criminals? The tragic case of Rachel Hoffman
via ABC News
After being caught twice with a “baggie” of marijuana, 23-year old Rachel Hoffman was reportedly told by police in Tallahassee, Florida that she would go to prison for four years unless she became an undercover informant.
The young woman, a recent graduate of Florida State University, was murdered during a botched sting operation two months ago.
… “The idea of waging a war on drugs is to protect people and here it seems like we’re putting people in harm’s way,” said Lance Block, a lawyer hired by Rachel’s parents.
The Florida Attorney General’s office says it is reviewing the procedures and protocol of the Tallahassee police.Rachel’s case also has raised new questions about state and federal laws related to marijuana possession.
I’m calling her a criminal,” Tallahassee police chief Dennis Jones told 20/20, who maintains that both drug dealers and drug users are considered criminals to his department.
Under Florida law, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana is a felony.
Rachel was also found in possession of two ecstasy pills, a felony under Florida law no matter the quantity because it “has a high potential for abuse and has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
The Tallahassee police chief says Rachel was suspected of selling drugs and she was rightly treated as a criminal.

0 thoughts

  1. the drug laws are just to out dated and too many good people are punished unfarly and no one should have to die because of them in a so called free country

  2. She was innocent (had not been proven guilty yet) SHE WAS INNOCENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These rotten blinded cops sent her to her death AS AN INNOCENT. FPD needs to be punished. Weed needs to be legalized. And the absolute crap tv commercials about weed, need to get off the air.
    i don’t even use weed! But, after a story like this, any human with a logically brain, a feeling heart, and a working mind, can PLAINLY see that this is ****ing out of control!
    To her family – may you see the day that these ropes that killed her be cut down! I am so very sorry for your loss.
    “WE” are the only ones who can do something about this now, we owe that to her, as well as to the many many others out there…..god to think……how many others…..
    Wake up, Get out, SPEAK up AMERICA!!

  3. Ron Paul WAS pushed down, he WOULD have changed things… lets just pray that our only shot in hell (obama) can produce SOMETHING better in this country than this ugly mess.

  4. As a resident for the last 15 plus years in florida, I’m not surprised at what happened.. I live here in Tallahassee and I can tell you that things here are backward, repressive, and completely disregard the peoples freedoms in the name of budgets and profit… At least, what with the massive media coverage, it appears the grand jury will actually charge the cops that handled, or shouls I say MIS-handled Miss Hoffman; with some serious offenses… We can not bring Rachel back, but maybe penalizing the officers will help bring this chaos to an end… I’d also suggest that if the cops are so hell bent on using a common citizen to act as a police agent, then the least they should do is cover them with an insurance policy equal to whatevr their rank and file officers families would get upon a death on duty… Seems that if that would make the cops think through the whole possible picture a bit more clearly………..

  5. the whole department should be caned, they put her in harm. they are responceable for her death all this shit is just fucked up.

  6. I to live here in Tallahassee as well,
    Let me first say, my condolences go out to her friends and family & I am so sorry for your loss.
    I agree that things here are backward, repressive, and completely disregard the peoples freedoms in the name of budgets and profit,
    The Grand Jury found the police to be as much at fault for Racheal Hoffmans’ death.
    This is the asshole who made the statement “She was a criminal” call his office at let him know what you think.
    Tallahassee Police Department
    Chief of Police
    Dennis Michael Jones
    234 E 7th Ave
    Tallahassee, Florida 32303
    This is the Tallahassee Mayor, call him and demand the chiefs resignation.
    John R. Marks
    Office of the Mayor
    300 South Adams Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32301

  7. “They” are trying to make my son do the same thing. He is married with 3 children and has never been in any trouble like this before. He has been out of work since last August with ruptured discs in his back and smokes so he can do some work (construction is all he knows). He buys 4 ozs and sells 3 so that his is free. Now, “they” say either narc or we will put you away for 5-10 years. Hes scared to death for his family and doesn’t want his kids to be raised without him. Hes thinking of running as no formal charges are pressed against him ,yet. He has until Friday to “do something”. What a mess this is .

  8. This brings me to tears… The obvious corrupt intentions of the Tallahassee Police are what truly cost Rachel her life. Any officials who played any role in this sting should be put on trial.

  9. This is so sad. Sending an unarmed girl barely out of college to buy cocaine and a gun from two gangsters, and trying to justify it by pointing out that she was in to weed. I hope they cant sleep at night.

  10. i’ve known rachels dad, irv for many years, actually i was his mechanic, rachel was his whole life, . he was always talking about her, what she was doing and what she had done the day before. he never stopped talking about her. i truly am sorry for their loss. irv is the nicest man you would ever hope to meet. somehow in this crazy world i hope they can find peace.

  11. The reason this girl died is because law enforcement can’t do their jobs they rely on snitches to do it for them and those people end up hurt. I say end this senselessness and legalize marijauna

  12. Look, while it is a tragedy that she got killed because the police use untrained kids in these positions, but drugs are illegal and that makes her a criminal (no matter how small the baggie was – BOTH times). The police should forget these stupid, dangerous sting operations and just throw these people in jail where they might learn a lesson and have a chance to get out of jail and live.

  13. @Me – it’s called ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ She hadn’t been proven guilty yet by a jury of her peers, she was not a convicted criminal. They sent her into harm’s way before she was allowed her Constitutional right of a trial by jury. That is RIDICULOUS. The justice system doesn’t exist anymore.

  14. would love to uncover “Dennis Jones” dirty laundry and air it after I made an assumption and judgement about his personna

  15. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to air “Dennis Jones” dirty laundry and be in a position legally that we could make assumptions and form judgements about him…Rachel was already condemned in his eyes and by his department…law enforcement like this is not law enforcement it is merely a lynch mob waiting for an opportunity to display conveluted power

  16. please don’t moderate, twist or change my words or my thoughts, as an american citizen I have the right still to say what is on my mind…that’s what the police are doing…so what make you any different (media propoganda)

  17. She could have said no and went to jail for her CRIMES like most people do. She put herself in harms way by accepting the offer. Anyone who knows anything knows that turning on drug dealers can be quite dangerous and often fatal. She made her choice. It is sad she got killed, but saying the officers were the real crimals is wrong. She was caught not once, but TWICE for the same crime, the second time with an additional substance. Clearly she hadnt learned her lesson and maybe the jail time would have done her good. At least shed still be alive.
    [Editor’s note: Cannabis Prohibition and the narcs ARE certainly responsible for her death. If it were not for the narcs trying to maintain their failed public policy of Prohibition, they would not have to lure young girls into getting killed to set up non-regulated businessman to get busted.
    Cannabis Prohibition and the Tallahassee narcs set up Ms. Huffman to unnecessarily be killed in trying to enforce an unenforceable law…]

  18. Her death is tragic & unintentional. I think pot should be legal, but as of right now it is not. The police are doing exactly what we ask them to do-reinforce our laws. It is accurate for them to call her a criminal today & they are doing their job by trying to get to the source. It is our responsibility to get the law changed. & then it will be these same police officers job to enforce the law again.

  19. I lived in tallahassee for years, just leaned of this story.I feel sorry for the family, TPD got their child killed for nothing. she only got small bags of pot from them,then she called and tell them she has thousands of dollars and want to buy crack.Big, time drug dealers do not sell small bags. these guy was small time just like her. The money got her killed, i do not rob people but a young white girl with drug money is a easy mark. I bet these guys never sold crack.

  20. Rachel was not an innocent victim tho’ she didn’t deserve to die this soon. That said the fact remains at 23 years of age she made a bad choice to help out the Tallahassee police to her detriment. Rachel unfortunately chose her free Get Out of Jail card only to receive death instead. If Rachel did her time in jail she still would be alive.

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