America Must Wean Law Enforcement From Their Marijuana Arrest Addiction

By George Rohrbacher, Member, NORML Board of Directors

In America since 1965, there have been 21 million arrests for marijuana, 9 out of 10 for quantities of an ounce or less. Over 800,000 were arrested for pot last year, with people of color and the young being arrested and incarcerated in hugely disproportionate numbers. Under current Washington State law, if arrested for possession of even the tiniest amount of cannabis, a person faces a mandatory night in jail, handcuffs, mugshots, fingerprints, and a criminal record that, thanks to the internet and data-mining, might follow a person for the rest of their life.

The Mexican Cartels have murdered tens of thousands of people in their own country and now their violence is spilling over the boarder into America. Sales of marijuana in the US are estimated to account for half of the Cartels’ revenue stream. By simply legalizing pot, by taking the business and the profits of marijuana out of the hands of these criminals, taxing and regulating cannabis would be a devastating blow to organized crime. And at the same time, regulation would ensure our citizens that standards of purity and potency had been met.

California, Oregon and Washington have all had marijuana legalization initiatives filed this year. California’s initiative already has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and recent polling of likely voters found that 56% plan to vote, “Yes”, on the measure come November. California’s Board of Tax Equalization has estimated that the legalization of cannabis will bring $1.4 billion in new tax revenues to the state’s cash-strapped municipalities.

This month, a Pew Charitable Trust poll found that 73% of all Americans are in favor of legal access to marijuana as medicine. Used as medicine for over 4,500 years, the DEA’s own Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young ruled: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man…” Without even holding a hearing, and over the objections of the American Medical Association, all uses of cannabis were outlawed by Congress in 1937. Since California’s passage of Prop 215 in 1996, 14 states have now taken back their medical marijuana rights from the Feds. Much safer than aspirin (gastric bleeding, death) or Tylenol (liver damage, death), marijuana is safer than virtually every other over-the-counter and prescription medicine for sale in America. Cannabis is also far safer, as a recreational drug, than either the very speedily deadly alcohol or the slowly lethal tobacco. Marijuana is not only safer for the individual, but it is safer for the society, too. A Seattle Police Sgt. patrolling Seattle Hempfest’s cannabis-imbibing 100,000 person crowd told me, “…compared to the crowds coming out of Safeco or Quest field after a game, patrolling Hempfest is like patrolling a Girl Scout picnic.”

Through my own recreational use, I discovered marijuana the all-natural non-toxic pain medicine with far less severe side-effects than the prescription alternatives. I believe cannabis should be legal for medical, recreational, food and fiber uses. Cannabis should be legal for American farmers to grow. If cannabis is legal for all, sick people will be able to get it. Ending this prohibition, America must also wean law enforcement from its 70-year-old marijuana arrest addiction. Cannabis use didn’t turn either Michael Phelps or Barack Obama into a couch potato or a loser. It’s time to legalize it. Tax and regulate marijuana…Now.

George Rohrbacher is a retired cattle rancher, former WA state senator (R), former Commissioner of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, currently serving on the NORML Board of Directors (For additional information please review the titles of two of the blogs I’ve written for the NORML blog: “Confessions of a Medical Marijuana Patient” and “Marijuana Prohibition and Fatherhood”)

This essay was originally published in the Peninsula Daily News on May 4th.

60 thoughts

  1. Another poster pointed this out, but I agree with him that the administrations stance is evidence of the depth of Obama’s chess game.

    Obama can say what he wants, while KNOWING the states will decide. That way he limits the level of alienation.

    What he’s not doing is just as important as what he is doing. He’s not trying to stop the states from deciding, and showing everyone how much of an economic boon cannabis is

  2. We are moving to Washington state next month. Hope to see some faces at the Seattle Hempfest in August.

    Looking forward to being much more active once I’m receiving medical mj (and not in so much pain).
    Once I’ve got the medical side done you can bet my energies will go towards helping Washington state to fully Legalize Cannabis.

  3. AND their kicking the shit out of people in custody addiction too, this would be nice, looks like they have startled to dabble with dogs

  4. i know everything u said in ur article and i agree 100% that marijuana should be legal for medical purposes, buildinf materials from hemp, recreational use, and by all means tax it the fedeal government can make alot more with it legal that it being illegal. and beinga proud stoner and a clutz do support regulating it like alcohol such as no driving under the influence or operating machinery. and for those who do not wish to smoke and because of that and anti drug programs such as dare i say to u nobody is trying to shove hash brownies in ur mouth if u dont want them so mind ur own fucking business and marijuana is a plant not a drug drugs are man made such as pills coke and herone and the only reason that weed is even catorgorized as a “gateway drug” is because on the black market is all these illegal drugs that are way worse are sitting on the shelf along side marijuana and people see these other more danger substances and are like hey why not try something different and thats how addiction happens and even results in death. i live by what the kottonmouth kings say because they are on the same page as al of us on here and i highly encourage every reader to listen as well and ive been to several of their concerts and its all peace and love not violence like the federal government likes to believe. and mad props go to the dude on here that said cops are addicted to the plant from arresting innocent tax payers that was perfectly said.

  5. There shouldn’t be a quota system. Because when there is people who aren’t criminals are guaranteed to be harrassed. Police love arresting cannabis users because they are non-violent and easy to find, sniff sniff. Alcoholics and meth heads are dangerous and unpredictable. If I was police and had to choose, I’d rather arrest the pot smoker.

  6. The people most opposed to repealing prohibition are the cartels, the dealers, law enforcement, and the government. The first three have a financial stake in it, maybe the government does, too. They were caught red-handed smuggling cocaine in Iran-contra. Do we really believe that that was the ONE time they did it, or more realistically, does that one time represent a percentage of the times that they got away with it? Their steadfast refusal to even be reasonable about it speaks volumes; they have a hell of a lot at stake. Nothing motivates like money. Maybe they ARE the cartels.

  7. its great to know that their is so much trying 2 be done for cannabis rights! I like the phelps/obama FACT!!

  8. In Georgia the primary elections are more important than the general, due the fact that only one canidate is on the ballot for a position, state, local and federal seats. (tom price 6th district- no contender once again) We do have libertarians, but some of them are repubs in sheeps clothing. The congressional district have been designed not to have competition by the state house and senate, this way, the two parties can rule the world without a fight on the streets.

    So it is up to the states!! I am out of Georgia as soon as PA signs up for medical. Maybe be that Hemp farmer I have always wanted to be.

  9. Just got off work “11 hrs,me and my employee and friend decide to smoke a joint to help relax a little befor we go home.We stop at a local store and i go in and purchas a couple of sodas while my frind twists up a joint.My friend sees a local swat team member and hides the weed.I think the swat team member was suspicious that my friend was rolling a joint,i do’nt think he actually seen my friend rolling the joint,any-
    ways the next thig we know we are being pulled over by this swat team guy and one of or local fineist young Gestapo.He walks up to my window and angerly asks “wers the dope,dont lie to me i could smell it before i even got out of my car.If you don’t tell me were it is and i have to get a K-9 up here it’s going to be hard on you.”Now my friend who i recently gave a job and introduced to Jesus Christ.The man is really trying to work hard and to straighten out his life is facing 120 days in jail.So im out a good employee and he is at a loss of freedom over a few grams of pot.
    It just dos’nt make a whole lot of sense to me.
    MJ should have been legalized a long time ago.
    Im 52 yrs old and have been smoking pot since i was 13 years old.I’ve never killed anyone and never been convicted of anything other than a traffic violation.
    I’m a licensed electrical contractor,I dont smoke on the job and i think it’s a damn shame that two friend cannot enjoy a little recreational relaxation after work.

  10. Godfearingman – It’s stories like yours that I decided to become a part of the movement to stop the madness! Our Justice system just disgusts me and it’s up to the good people of this country to do something about it. It is truly sad that our Govt takes our money(via taxes) and then uses against us. I feel the same way about my homeowners association. We have to pay our monthly fees only to be bullied by the board members regarding our own property… Truly, this is not my idea of what America is supposed to be like based on what I believe our countries founding fathers intended.

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