cannabisnews.com: Pot Push Reefer Madness? 





Pot Push Reefer Madness? 
Posted by FoM on April 02, 2000 at 14:10:54 PT
By Michael Allem & David Noonan, Staff Writers
Source: New York Daily News
Last week's wild police chase through a crowded Brooklyn schoolyard was just one more incident in the Giuliani administration's longstanding  and, some say, misguided  war on marijuana, which has netted more than 100,000 public pot smokers since 1994.
The undercover cops who shot and killed two robbers brandishing toy guns in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Friday night were participating in Operation Condor, the mayor's latest anti-drug initiative. They were backing up officers who had just arrested three men on marijuana charges. Most of the marijuana busts have come in the past two years as the cops have dramatically escalated their enforcement against puffing in public. In 1992, only 720 people were busted for toking weed in the open. Last year, 33,471 offenders were arrested for smoking marijuana in city parks and streets  a 4,549% increase. The busts represented 9% of all arrests made in New York City in 1999.Those arrested for smoking pot in public  like those arrested for violent crimes  are handcuffed, booked and fingerprinted, and spend hours in jail. Sometimes, it is days before they see a judge. Most are sentenced to time served, receive a small fine and are released.Mayor Giuliani has said that the key to fighting drugs in New York is to go after marijuana use as a crime that leads to bigger crimes."The link between drugs and crime is well-documented," Giuliani spokesman Matthew Higgins said. "The heightened enforcement of all drug laws in the last few years has dramatically improved the quality of life in New York City and is one of the prime reasons why overall crime is down over 55% since 1994." The war against pot smokers brings together two of the mayor's favorite crimefighting strategies: eliminating public "nuisances," such as squeegee people and panhandlers, and increasing misdemeanor drug arrests.But Giuliani's aggressive pursuit of dopers is viewed by some as reefer madness, a return of the demonization of marijuana that swept the nation in the 1920s and 1930s.  "I don't think arresting people for possession of marijuana is going to make the city safe," said City Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge (D-Manhattan). "It's just the wrong emphasis. All these operations  Condor and whatever  these undercover or street operations the police are undertaking are harassing people."And the best charge that they can get most often is for marijuana. That is not what threatens this city, or people's lives." Condor  not to be confused with the mayor's earlier and continuing anti-marijuana drive  is the $20 million push against low-level drug activity, including marijuana use, that began in January. Unarmed security guard Patrick Dorismond was killed March 16 during a confrontation with a team of undercover cops assigned to the initiative.Although the mayor's campaign against pot seems to have had no formal beginning, the effort really took off around 1996. That year, marijuana collars increased to 9,144 from 5,541 the year before. The number of arrests almost doubled in 1997, to 17,609 and nearly doubled again in 1998, to 32,569.While Condor has attracted the most attention, Giuliani's undeclared pot offensive seems to be the front line in the city's war against drugs."The kind of money that we're spending on marijuana is outrageous," said Angel Rodriguez, executive director of the Andrew Glover Youth Program, which serves troubled youths on the lower East Side. "The cops could be doing lots of other work that's really necessary in this neighborhood," Rodriguez said. "They could be working on the hard drugs, No. 1. There's plenty of heroin and cocaine around that is damaging our children and creating problems for all the citizens."Although arrests for smoking pot have soared in the last few years, arrests for misdemeanor possession of controlled substances, such as heroin and cocaine, actually have declined to 34,951 last year from 40,691 in 1995."The mayor's war on drugs is actually a phony war on drugs," said Tom Leighton, chairman of the Marijuana Reform Party of New York. "In reality, it's a war on marijuana smokers and low-level, nonviolent marijuana offenders."While total misdemeanor drug arrests climbed to 78,354 in 1999 from 27,447 in 1993, Leighton points out that pot-smoking arrests account for 61% of the increase.Leighton, who ran for Manhattan borough president in 1997 to publicize the pot-arrest issue and garnered more than 24,000 votes, says there is no evidence to support the mayor's contention that marijuana use is linked with crime."Marijuana is not connected to violence and not connected to crime," Leighton said. "Except for the crime of having marijuana."Police spokeswoman Marilyn Mode pointed out that in 1992, when there were 720 arrests for public pot smoking, there also were 1,995 murders and 626,182 major felony complaints in the city. In 1999, when pot-smoking arrests topped 33,000, there were just 667 murders and 299,523 felony complaints."Clearly there's a nexus with drug activity and crime," Mode said.City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Queens), chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee, has scheduled a public hearing for April 25 to review police anti-drug strategies, including Operation Condor."One of the things that has to be gone into is whether there are alternative strategies that make sense in this day and age, when crime has been driven down a lot," Leffler said. "And I think there are other things that New Yorkers would like to see besides these anti-narcotics efforts."As serious crime has dropped in the city, minor offenders have been targeted by cops, critics say. Legal Aid Society lawyer David Kapner says pot smokers are easy pickings for the police and a convenient way for them to keep their arrest numbers up."These aren't people who are going to run," Kapner said. "They are not going to pull out weapons. They are not going to give you a hard time," Kapner said."If you are a police officer looking to fill a quota, marijuana is a really easy way to do it, because it's also a group activity, people tend to smoke marijuana with other people. Sometimes you get three arrests out of one stop, so it's very efficient. It's not like people smoking crack, where they go off on their own."Almost one-third of those arrested for smoking pot are under 20, Leighton said. And because the federal Higher Education Act, which will go into effect this summer, prohibits federal college loans or financial aid to anyone with a prior drug conviction, "a misdemeanor pot-smoking arrest can spell disaster for college-bound youngsters from poor families," he said."We don't feel, as a city, as besieged by the drug problem as we did 10, 15 years ago," Leffler said. "And yet we are using more aggressive tactics than ever. Does that really make sense?" 2000 Daily News, L.P.Published: April 2, 2000 Related Articles:When Civilians are Casualties of Drug Warhttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread5193.shtmlWar on Drugs Can't Help but Run Amokhttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread5172.shtmlLatest Victim of Drug Wars http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread5145.shtmlRight to Know What Giuliani Finds Relevanthttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread5136.shtmlUnarmed Man Slain In Police Strugglehttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread5101.shtml 
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Comment #7 posted by Tom Paine on April 03, 2000 at 14:01:08 PT
murder rate drop is not because of cannabis busts.
The very slight murder rate drop is a nationwide thing. So for Giuliani to say that marijuana busts are the reason is bogus. And the US murder rate is still astronomical compared to Western Europe, Canada, and Australia. None of which concentrate police and jail resources against cannabis like the USA does.>23456789012345678901234567890123456789012345> http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/y/charts2.htm _> http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/y/charts.htm __>____________________________________________>Nation_____________Homicide_Rate________Year>______________per_100,000_population________>____________________________________________>United_States____________6.8____________1997>Australia________________1.5____________1998>Canada___________________2.1____________1996>Colombia________________99._____________1993>England_and_Wales________1.4____________1996>Germany____________below_2._____________1996>Holland__________________1.8____________1996>Ireland____________below_2._____________1996>Italy______________below_2._____________1996>Latin_America___________17._____________1993>___________________________________________________> http://www.abs.gov.au/ ___________________________> http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/hmrt.txt _____> http://www.gov.ab.ca/justicesummit/stats/fig02.htm 
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Comment #6 posted by jack handy on April 03, 2000 at 10:55:30 PT
peaceful potheads 
i say just leave us alone!!! we might smoke pot but we aren't smoking crack or anything like that. go after those poeple and leave the hippies alone!!!
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Comment #5 posted by J Christen-Mitchell on April 03, 2000 at 05:04:55 PT:
"Crime Down 55%"
What they don't say is that crime statistics do not include drug crimes. 
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Comment #4 posted by MikeEEEEEEEE on April 02, 2000 at 17:59:47 PT
A Police State
I live in NY, it feels like a police state, there's always police around with nothing to do, of course they're going to go after some poor guy smoking a joint, it's an easy arrest. It's a sad day when we have to live in a place without compassion.
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Comment #3 posted by Freedom on April 02, 2000 at 17:53:34 PT
The saddest fact...
... is that marijuana possession for personal use, 5 gms. and under, is a decriminalized offense in New York.Now, purchasers are treated like criminals, without a change in the law. You can be jailed for up to 36 hours while they run your fingerprints. Imagine doing this to people who get a traffic ticket. And, they sometimes just toss you in the back of the van and drive around with you for six hours while they round up more non-criminal marijuana users.This is jokingly refered to as "serving your time up front"by those in power in N.Y. who do not follow the law, who do everything to violate the spirit of the law.Giuliani is a known quantity, and will reap what he has sown.
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Comment #2 posted by observer on April 02, 2000 at 17:08:58 PT
Marijuana = Drugs = Crack and Heroin ?
Notice the rhetorical trick whereby somehow "marijuana" gets turned into "drugs"; the effects any/every drug is thereby imputed to marijuana: > Mayor Giuliani has said that the key to fighting drugs in New York is to go after marijuana use as a crime that leads to bigger crimes. "The link between drugs and crime is well-documented," Giuliani spokesman Matthew Higgins said.People are starting to catch on, however:> "Marijuana is not connected to violence and not connected to crime," Leighton said. "Except for the crime of having marijuana."``Our organization, Change the Climate Inc. http://www.changetheclimate.org is a group of parents and marketing professionals who are using advertising to "change the climate" around marijuana. We are disturbed that taxpayer-funded ads deceive our children about marijuana by linking it to heroin.''--Joseph Whitehttp://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n401/a05.htmlA similar trick is used in "strikes" laws where the third strike "must" be a "violent crime" (so far so good), or a "felony" (the public swallows this hook line and sinker). And, oh by the way, possessing a single marijuana cigarette is such a felony people find out after such laws are passed... ''Mandantory sentencing eliminates the independent excercise of authority by judges in criminal cases. Nuremberg prosecutors condemned elimination of judges' independence230 and entered mandantory sentencing as part of the evidence of crimes against humanity.231 A judge removed from office by the Nazis recalled that "in important criminal cases," the Nazi district attorney would "inform the presiding judge prior to the trial of the punishment which would be sought and point out that this sentence would be expected of him."232 Procedure is little different in important American drug war cases. Upon conviction, under mandantory sentencing judges must obey the sentencing decision of the prosecutor, who prearranges the sentence by fine tuning the indictment. Nuremberg prosecutors described "prearrangement of sentences between judges and prosecutors" as criminal.233 Mandantory sentencing guidelines are ruthless. A first offense of simple marijuana posession now carries a five-year federal penalty.234 Escalator clauses take advantage of the repetitive nature of drug use. First-time possession of crack can be punished by five to twenty years if the amount exceeds five grams. A second offense brings the same punishment if the weight exceeds five grams. And a third offense brings the same punishment of the weight exceeds one gram. "Three felony convictions for drug offenses carries mandantory life with no parole, and it is a felony to commit a drug offense within 100 feet of a pinball or video arcade containing more than 10 games."235 Possession of a marijuana cigarette is such a felony. Federal law permits a $10,000 fine for possessing one marijuana cigarette.236 An Oklahoma man received a life sentence for felony possession of marijuana, 0.005644 of an ounce.237 '' (Richard L Miller, Drug Warriors and their Prey, 1996, pgs.63-64) http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0275950425/Cannabisnews/
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on April 02, 2000 at 15:51:32 PT:
Why the cops just love picking on us
'As serious crime has dropped in the city, minor offenders have been targeted by cops, critics say. Legal Aid Society lawyer David Kapner says pot smokers are easy pickings for the police and a convenient way for them to keep their arrest numbers up."These aren't people who are going to run," Kapner said. "They are not going to pull out weapons. They are not going to give you a hard time," Kapner said."If you are a police officer looking to fill a quota, marijuana is a really easy way to do it, because it's also a group activity, people tend to smoke marijuana with other people. Sometimes you get three arrests out of one stop, so it's very efficient. It's not like people smoking crack, where they go off on their own."Almost one-third of those arrested for smoking pot are under 20, Leighton said. And because the federal Higher Education Act, which will go into effect this summer, prohibits federal college loans or financial aid to anyone with a prior drug conviction, "a misdemeanor pot-smoking arrest can spell disaster for college-bound youngsters from poor families," he said.A few weeks ago, a cop that was quoted here said almost exactly the same thing: They like to bust cannabis users because we're not prone to giving them trouble. We're not likely to get into gun battles with them. We're not likely to get rowdy like drunks do and try to smash a bottle over their heads or run them down in drink-induced aggressiveness. So they come after us... because we are far less a threat to them - and by extension, to society - than the hard drug pusher is. While the truly dangerous waltz away, laughing at the inscrutability of a police department that spends more time arresting pot-heads than it does in arresting child molestors. Is it any wonder why most countries around the world nod sagely as the US proselytizes it's version of the anti-drugs crusade - and then go right ahead and make their own policies? They apparantly can smell something rotten, but our leaders have spent so much time smelling their own DrugWar failure that they mistake it's rank odor for normality. The US is hardly a shining exemplar of success.
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