A Tale of Two Cities: Why DC and NY are Worlds Apart

Washington, DC and New York City are only 225 miles apart, a four-hour drive up I-95, or a 3½ hour train ride on Amtrak. And both jurisdictions have taken positive steps over the last couple of years to stop arresting marijuana smokers. But in other ways, they are in parallel universes.

In one city the police chief is embracing marijuana legalization, and touting it as a helpful step in building community relations. And in the other, the police commissioner is saying marijuana has caused an increase in homicides and shootings, even worse than the cocaine and heroin epidemics of the 1980s and ’90s. It would be difficult to find a more stark contrast in policing strategies.

To read the balance of this column, please go to Marijuana.com.

27 thoughts

  1. I believe that marijauna should be legalized because tabaco and alcohol is a lot worse then weed and yet that stuff is legal but marijauna is not

  2. Off topic. What happens to the “so-called” Tennessee marijuana tax stamp, when/if the decriminalization of small amounts of pot passes? I figure they probably haven’t had too many people inquiring about them. I suppose Alaska never had to deal with the ridiculous stamp.

  3. I love the NY theory that marijuana is causing murders without stating that it is because it is illegal.

    I saw a documentary once about cigarettes in prison, and they were selling for 100.00 a pack…a guy got a deal and bought 3 cartons for 1500.00. And, understandably there was violence over them. When they asked the warden about permitting cigarettes, he replied, “Naw…we’ve already had (X) people killed over cigarettes in the past (X) months, we ain’t gonna legalize ’em.

    How clueless.

  4. FYI, from the Drug Policy Alliance web site, another organization I donate to all to happily! Come on, NYC! Legalize in NY!

    New York City Council Issues Formal Call for Decriminalizing and Legalizing Marijuana

    New York: This week, the New York City Council called for the state of New York to pass historic legislation to both decriminalize and to tax and regulate marijuana. As part of the Council’s State Budget and Legislative Agenda for the 2015-2016 legislative session, the New York City Council urged the state legislature to pass two historic marijuana policy reforms – the Fairness and Equity Act and the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA). The Speaker of the City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito had previously announced her support for marijuana legalization in November, but this marks the first time that marijuana decriminalization and legalization have been part of the Council’s official legislative agenda.


  5. New York has sort of a two steps forward one step back approach to marijuana… We’ve made some real progress in the past several years, but it seems like it’s frequently being undone in one way or another. We have decriminalized pot and yet pot arrests remain high… We have reduced the number of stop-and-frisk incidents, and yet pot arrests still remain incredibly racially biased. And we recently passed a medical marijuana bill, but it’s so restrictive almost no one who needs the medicine can get it.

    Being a medical marijuana patient in NYC sucks. You become a criminal simply for trying to find the medicine that makes you feel better. But I still have hope for my city… 2016 will be the year of change for marijuana laws all around the country. In the meantime, I’d appreciate it if you all would read my blog post about my own struggles as a medical cannabis patient living in NYC: http://www.davidtheexpert.com/post.php?id=14&question=Why_New_York_City_needs_Legal_Medical_Marijuana I wrote it from my heart, and I know you guys will understand my pain.

  6. Cops sometimes get addicted to donuts, it makes them want to jump out of windows and think they can fly.

    I’ve seen the devastation and ruined lives of donut addiction.

  7. So we contrast DC’s Lanier saying, “All those arrests do is make people hate us.” with NYPD’s Bratton STILL fighting cultural battles left over from the 1960s and blaming marijuana.

    This is shaping up as an issue for the 2016 election, not just in the general election, but also within the Republican party. If the conservatives win the nomination and the election, you can kiss any progress on reform goodbye for at least a decade — probably the rest of my life.

    If you lean Republican, and you’re visiting NORML’s website, you need to consider just how important NORML’s goal is compared to the rest of your concerns for the country.

  8. “Naw…we’ve already had (X) people killed over cigarettes in the past (X) months, we ain’t gonna legalize ‘em.

    How clueless.- Odhinn

    Who smuggles those boxes of cancer sticks into the Prisons?

    Many prison officials disapprove of inmates leaving the prison to purchase addictive drugs…so that only leaves employees who can leave the prison.

    Whoever is smuggling addictive drugs to a caged clientele knows exactly what they are doing and why…Prison employees don’t make a great deal of money via pay or salary…some of them may choose to “supplement” their income by exploiting imprisoned addicts?

    Drug debts are the most common reason for violent acts of retribution in prison.

    The persons who smuggle addictive drugs into prisons could not care any le$$…the illegal, exorbitant profits are what matters to all actual criminals…no matter what title the actual criminals assume.

    I should have become a prison guard instead of a cannabis criminal?…but… then I would have had to look in the mirror and see a generally sadistic cretin…upon retrospect, I made the right choice!

  9. Anti-pot people I guess think awful things will happen if Marijuana is changed from a crime to a right. It’s still here right now but I guess being open and honest about it will open up darkness in people’s brains or something. That’s at least what they think. You know, bad things happen without drugs all the time. They’ve happened for thousands of years before people knew about them. In fact, things have gotten better since drugs were introduced in the 60s. In the 1950s, African citizens had to ride the back of the bus, eat at colored diners and were loathed because their skin is more tan. Look at all the great things that have happened since 1965: mentally ill people are no longer in cages in Pennhurst, internet computer advances sparked by someone who did LSD, people feel better plus way more. It’s true you could freak-out on certain drugs but that can be controlled and avoided and we’re not talking about legalizing acid. Weed gives a good high it makes you happy music sounds awesome food tastes great after smoking high quality weed tastes good itself it actually changes reality for the better for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. And if you do become paranoid on it all you have to do is eat some food and the high will go away. There are thousands of medical uses. And people should be able to feel the way they want legally especially something as safe as marijuana. People are going to do it, legal or not, we could make serious money from it and create millions of jobs.People love the way it makes you feel and this ongoing lost war on drugs isn’t helping anyone. Weed has been used for 5 thousand years or more. Never killed one person. God invented it and it wasn’t for bad purposes. We want to smoke pot without avoiding cops and dealing with cartels and or mafia. In the name of God, please make pot legal. You don’t know how great a drug you’re missing.

  10. War on Donuts!

    Mandatory sentences for first time offenders!

    Black men who eat donuts believe themselves equal to The Great White Man!(what Harry Asslinger probably would have claimed?)

    Don’t be a do”nut”..Please send donutions to DonutRehabInc@Sabetafeller.dickhead

  11. @ Erik K Johnson,

    Regarding your question as to who smuggles nicotine sticks into prison, I can assure you the guards themselves are often complicit in this activity. I have a cousin who has been in and out of the penal system, and his sister recently told me that she was once given instructions by her imprisoned brother to deliver “a box” to one of the walls near a guard tower. She said they tossed the box up toward the tower, then stepped on the gas. The box of course contained MJ, not cigs.

  12. @ Bob Constantine,

    So it IS the donuts after all! All that powdery sugar, maybe some going up their noses.

  13. @Evening Bud

    “Regarding your question as to who smuggles nicotine sticks into prison, I can assure you the guards themselves are often complicit in this activity”. – Evening Bud

    I am positive your penalized cousin is correct.

    I also spent more than several years in Federal Prison for one cannabis crime.

    The same drugs available on the street are also available behind the wall…the only difference is the price…which could include one’s life.

    If anyone ever finds themselves jammed up in a prison, I would advise them to avoid any drug use in that prison…unless they are sick with the disease of Addiction?…then they should seek the non-existent “drug treatment”?

    How despicable is it to exploit sick people locked in cages?

    Prisons are operated for profit…and much of that profit is from drug sales to a “Captive Clientele”.

    All persons currently incarcerated for non- violent cannabis “crimes” should demand “immediate release” via a Class Action lawsuit?

    Cannabis is legal in some United States and simultaneously illegal in some United States.

    I wonder how it feels to be imprisoned for something that is now legal?

    I’ll bet it feels like torture.

    Being locked in a steel cage for years for cannabis “crimes” is a form of torture…if you don’t agree…give it a try?

  14. Note that in the cited press conference Bratton exhibited OREGANO in order to avoid breaking law by exhibiting cannabis. Make it a point in New York to carry around sifted ready-to-vape OREGANO (or basil, marjoram, sage, savory, thyme), 1-2 grams in a small canister, with your single-toke utensil, and if you must carry any cannabis, carry it in a different place than with the utensil.

    25 grams is just short of an ounce (28.35 g), adds up to 1000 single tokes in a 25-mg-serving-size one-hitter (with flexible drawtube attached, see free wiki article “12 Ways to Make Pipes from Everyday Objects”). About as many tokes as a norml healthy senior, or commissioner-laureate, needs in a year, hope Mr. Bratton will check out those herbs.

    @Odhinn, @Eric K. Johnson, a famous former death row inmate (name escapes me) told Studs Terkel, “$igarettes are the currency of the prison. If you have $igarettes, you can buy anything you want.”

    The ritual rigamarole of $igarette $moking is the most profoundly direct of all rehearsals for crime– up to holding something like a gun in the hand: “Winston tastes good, like a !!!! !!!! (gunshots) $igarette should!”

    After committing symbolic murder against own trachea, lungs, heart etc., and reducing the $igarette from a pround straight adult to a stinky fiery child, users punitively “snuff” out, throw away, grind underfoot etc. the guilty-ass “butt”/corpse to detriment of everyone’s environment (including burning thousands of buildings a year so trees must be killed to provide replacement timbers).

    Consider edifying the Brattons above us by eliminating the H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide “Joint” from cannabis use, thus as cannabis users setting the good example for a billion tobackgo $igarette buyers worldwide, cutting down the 6,000,000-a-year death toll and helping NORML win the Knowitwell Prize for Preventive Medicine (“We serve and protect”).

  15. Hello Tom,

    The Marihuana Tax Stamp is illegal. It is an illegal law/statute that was knocked down by the Supreme Court in 1969. And Tennessee’s bullshit statute was knocked down in 2007 because it is equally illegal. Yet its proponents are fighting for it all the way to Tennessee Supreme Court. It is sad to see officials still so obsessed with breaking the law in the name of “fighting against marijuana”.

  16. Politicians and Law Enforcement personnel across this country need to realize that we are all aware of the lies and bigotry behind marijuana prohibition. There is nothing in our society that cause so much distrust and disrespect towards them as the continued idiotic and anti-freedom laws that come from the prohibition of marijuana.

    It would be wonderful if we could end prohibition and then all work together, stoners and non-stoners alike, to make this a better stronger country. There is absolutely no good reason to continue a policy that divides us all so deeply; especially when that policy is based on lies and propaganda!

  17. @Eric K. Johnson, a famous former death row inmate (name escapes me) told Studs Terkel, “$igarettes are the currency of the prison. If you have $igarettes, you can buy anything you want.” – mexweed

    The late great Studs Terkel heard the truth…nicotine is the most sought after drug in prison…tobacco products are now generally prohibited in America’s prison “system”…which, of course, created a tremendously profitable black market.

    As for deadly tobacco…My Mother smoked cigarettes most of her life…until She died at the age of 58… due to deadly tobacco addiction.

    Some unsolicited advice for anyone who uses tobacco as a “stealth diet aid”…I promise you it works…My Mom weighed under seventy pounds when She died.

  18. There is absolutely no good reason to continue a policy that divides us all so deeply – Miles

    Unless that is their goal?

    The more divided we Citizens are ,the easier we are to control and subjugate?

    The other “reason” is to prove to everyone that they can make us obey…or be sentenced to prison?

    The next thing you know they will make us obediently accept fake Wars, Bankruptcy/Theft by (Mafia Style) Bustout Banksters and perhaps a new Monarch?

    I think it’s called terrorism?

    [Editor’s note: Terrorism? Obedience? Subjugation? Monarchs? All way over-the-top…just trying to legalize a little ganja here. No reason to make it into more than it is.]

  19. @ Erik K Johnson

    My heart goes out to you brother, for having lost some years of your life for doing something as harmless as MJ. I’m glad you’re out of that rat hole.

    PS–I love the late great Studs Terkel.

  20. @ Miles

    I agree 100% with what you say. Some cops just have that mindset that MJ tokers are low lifes who deserve to be behind bars. I worked with a few for several years, and saw that mentality. Not all of them had it, but the ones who did were hardheaded on that score. Probably the same cops who tear your car apart looking for a joint when they stop you.

  21. Editor, I think you missed something. Everything Eric mentioned isn’t a theoretical threat, but facts we have been living with for decades. Fake Wars. Well the Wars themselves are real, but our reasons for fighting them are fake. We have 100’s of soldiers coming home and killing themselves because they killed people because of lies and now cannot live with the guilt. The facts are the government they fought for lied to them and made their PTSD that much worse.

    Making marijuana illegal is about requiring people to follow non-important laws or face ridiculous punishments. It isn’t about the “common good”, it is about subjugation and obedience. “You cross this bullshit line we put in the sand”–is the MO of the War on Marijuana. They haven’t even bothered to justify it, they have just maintained or increased their punishment schedules. The punishment schedules only stopped increasing in 2012! Thanks to pressure from us marijuanaros! We are changing things. They continue to see us a group of whipping boys.

  22. “I’m glad you’re out of that rat hole.”- Evening Bud

    Me and you both!

    I was bitter for quite some time but now(many years later) recognize my time spent in Federal Prison was truly an enlightening experience.

    One can simply “do” time or spend time in the law library, I chose the latter option.

    You are very kind…and compassionate…but I already knew that from reading your insightful comments.

    Prisons should be reserved for criminals…and common sense would dictate near universal agreement…in a society that does not exploit it’s own Citizens with wrongful punishments…in many instances (Private Prisons)for profit

    Thanks, Dave!…we live in drastic times…some see it, others don’t.

  23. We have 100’s of soldiers coming home and killing themselves because they killed people because of lies and now cannot live with the guilt. – Dave

    That should break any decent persons heart…it does mine.

    The Masters of War love profitable wars…as long as they don’t have to participate in or witness the bloodshed from their War Racket.

  24. A tale of two Country’s…is more accurate.

    Cannabis is legal in some of our United States while simultaneously illegal in some of our other United States.

    Where, in the name of The Constitution of The United States of America, is the Union?

    Does this indicate law gone awry?

    Are United States actually united if they are not united by Constitutional law?

  25. NYC has very dense housing and frankly a lot of people who don’t know how to behave in a respectful manner. So that might be the difference.

    Kids require police intervention after neighbors cannot stop them from stinking up an entire apartment block, one dies fleeing police:

    New York teen dies after falling off roof as police attempted to arrest him
    Police said Hakeem Kuta, 17, was backing away from them and misjudged the placement of a ledge after fleeing up stairs following a marijuana complaint


    My guess is if the kids involved just stopped smoking after neighbors requested they stop there would have been no police incident. But that is not how things get resolved in NYC.

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