Wednesday November 26, 2014
SNc Channels:

Search
About Salem-News.com
Zip Weather


Weather Forecast
Keizer is a thriving community near Salem, Oregon

 

May-24-2008 15:29printcomments

$70 Billion a Year for Drug Laws While Predators Remain Free

Outdated drug laws intended to lock non-violent offenders in jail results in more leeway and fewer arrests for violent criminals and predators.

Police and medical marijuana protesters
Police in Hollywood and the DEA teamed up to close down a legal medical marijuana dispensary in Hollywood, California. The photo almost appears to be from another time; when the protesters and the media were on one side of the line and the police stood firmly on the other. Today some police are seeing it differently, these just aren't them.
Photos by Shay Sowden and LAist

(SALEM, Ore.) - Imagine a town, somewhere in the United States. At the local police station, Officer Joe is pouring himself a cup of coffee at the start of his shift, when a call comes in. A citizen thinks she smells marijuana coming from her neighbor’s house.

Joe proceeds to respond to the call, driving the 30 or so odd miles to the house. Just then, another call comes in. An armed man has taken 27 children hostage at the local elementary school – now 25 miles away from Joe’s location.

In this extreme example, there can be no doubt that Joe should abandon his investigation of the marijuana smell and proceed immediately to the school. No officer in his right mind would consider putting children’s lives at risk, in order to pursue the smell of cannabis, would he?

But on a larger scale, when we fund drug enforcement to the tune of 70 billion dollars every year, we are effectively putting lives at risk by not funding other important police work.

Officers are only charged with enforcing the laws that “we the people,” through our legislators enact, and according to the priorities these legislators reflect through their funding of all of the various departments of law enforcement. We must demand that our leaders choose to prioritize the health and safety of our nation’s communities, over policing the personal morals of the citizens of the “Land of the Free.”

As a nation, we’ve lost sight of the forest for the trees. We’ve charged law enforcement officers with the awesome responsibility of not only preventing violent crime and apprehending violent criminals, but we’ve further empowered them to act as the morality police, saving America from the evils of everything from cigarette smoke to cannabis to sex toys to, of all the crazy things – certain kinds of fat! Where does it end?

The U.S. currently incarcerates more people for non-violent crimes, than for violent crimes. We lock up more of our citizens per capita than any other nation, even Russia, China and Cuba. Yet, according to national data from the FBI for 2006, the clearance rate for all violent crime was an abysmal 44.3%. Our current approach is not working. In all of this often politically-driven chaos, our priorities have been perverted.

It’s time to reprioritize.

For decades we’ve waged a “War on Drugs,” supposedly designed to prevent and deter the abuse of ten substances through their prohibition. Instead of encouraging our citizens to abide by the laws of the land, this war on some drugs encourages entrepreneurial anarchy in a game “won” by survival of the most corrupt and callously capitalistic.

It has driven the major funding for organized crime and terrorism, created and maintains a black market so enormous that it rivals the wealthiest industries on Earth, and which has become directly responsible for far too much of the vigilante violence in our communities. It encourages everyone who would dare to taste the forbidden fruit to live outside of, and develop disrespect and disregard for, the laws of our land.

Instead of seeing heroes among police officers, suburbanites like me grow up to become adults who fear law enforcement. We view them as potential threats, terrorizing patients who need medical marijuana and pursuing and persecuting cannabis consumers, while child rapists are given slaps on the wrist – some never spending a single day in jail, even for raping multiple children. And that only includes the small percentage of predators that are caught.

Additionally, NIDA reports indicate that survivors of sexual assault are 4-10 times more likely to abuse illegal drugs, than those who do not suffer abuse. Incarcerating non-violent survivors of rape for using drugs to self-medicate anxiety, depression and other symptoms of PTSD, while allowing their perpetrators to roam our streets with impunity, does not make us safer.

A legislator once challenged me on the issue of medical marijuana. He said that he didn’t want to support an amendment to a funding bill which would have protected medical marijuana patients. His reason for objecting, however, surprised me. He said that he didn’t want to single out marijuana from every other medicine. He wanted to see all drugs regulated equally.

This makes perfect sense to me. As a patient with Crohn’s Disease, who relies on medical marijuana to ease severe symptoms, I couldn’t really argue with his logic. I could only ask him whether he felt it would be a wise investment of our scarce resources to send the DEA to break down my door, terrorize my five young children, and haul me off to jail, just for taking my medicine? He had to admit that would be a very poor use of our resources, and I’m thrilled to say he’s supported the Rohrabacher - Hinchey Medical Marijuana Amendment for four years in a row.

I keep coming back to that meeting with the Congressman in my mind, because I’d very much like to see his vision come to fruition. By regulating all drugs equally, effectively ending prohibition once and for all, we could accomplish what the originators of prohibition first promised – actually reducing drug abuse and violent crime in our nation.

No longer can we afford to funnel tens of billions of dollars annually into a “War on Drugs,” which effectively ensures the perpetual funding of organized crime and terrorism. We must not waste the precious time of our law enforcement officers in chasing down the sick and dying who need medical marijuana, while child rapists roam our communities, knowing that their chances of even getting caught, let alone doing any time in prison, are very low.

Do we want to cut crime in our nation by half?

Do we want to eliminate drug dealing overnight?

Do we want our police officers spending our scarce resources to pursue people who prefer cannabis to cocktails, or do we have more important work for them to do?

It all comes down to our priorities.

To learn more about prohibition and why “cops say legalize drugs,” please visit: LEAP.cc.

Another site worth visiting on this subject is: medicalcannabis.com.

For more information about medical marijuana and prohibition, please visit: ParentsEndingProhibition.org (currently undergoing revision).

-------------------------------------------------------

Erin Hildebrandt wears many hats. She's wife to Bill Hildebrandt, mom to five beautiful kids, activist, artist, legally registered Oregon medical marijuana patient, public speaker, and an internationally published writer. She co-founded Parents Ending Prohibition, and her writing has been printed in Mothering Magazine, New York's Newsday, and Canada's National Post, among many others. Erin has been interviewed for a front page story in USA Today, and she has been published in the American Bar Association Journal. Speaking as a survivor of child sexual abuse, Erin also appeared on the Geraldo Rivera show. She has also testified before Oregon Senate and House committees, and Maryland Senate and House committees. We are very pleased to feature the work of Erin Hildebrandt on Salem-News.com.




Comments Leave a comment on this story.
Name:

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.



Henry Ruark May 27, 2008 8:02 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Thank you, Tim, for straight fact properly administered to RedPaw. Careful reading/rereading of his diatribe shows me from whence he cometh...and makes me add to yours that in 50 years working with police I never found any one of them who would accept his description of what they do, how they do it, or why. If his tone did not deny it strongly, I'd think he was perhaps puffing a bit himself, or even jabbing, when he wrote; and that perhaps his intention, prior to needle-entrance, was to write satriically. But entire volume you showed of his ....(read "stuff" !) is denial-in-depth for that. SO Redpaw, perhaps you need to wipe off what's still there and remove yourself...


Anonymous May 27, 2008 6:12 pm (Pacific time)

Vic, these conservative morons deserve the Darwin Award!  Carry on brother, thanks for having a pair man.


RedpawGraphics May 27, 2008 5:44 pm (Pacific time)

Editor: This is a very offensive comment on a personal level and I am going to edit down the unnecessary insults and publish part of it. If a person disagrees with an article then they can write a sensible comment or I will flush it and I could care less if that sits well with anybody. The purpose of the comment section is to promote intelligent discussion and anything less will be eliminated, got that RedpawGraphics? I know that when a person is tasked with making an argument like yours, insults are the easiest way to make a point. You won't do it here.

And before I go on: this person's entire comment dismisses the clear and OBVIOUS FACT that medical marijuana is legal here in Oregon and in California and Washington as well as many other states and it is finding increasing acceptance. The persecuted berb has never killed a person. The discussion this writer poses partly regards federal intervention in state laws. President Bush ran on a platform of respecting state's rights and it was a smokescreen and something he had no intention of living up to, based on history more than seven years later.

I don't agree with this story, it reeks of a mentality towards paranoia of civilian law and what the %^$#@$^ thinks is right.
When the author writes:
"Officers are only charged with enforcing the laws that “we the people,” through our legislators enact, and according to the priorities these legislators reflect through their funding of all of the various departments of law enforcement"

The Author fails to understand that Officers don't have the duty to prevent crime, only to document the crime after it happens and interview witnesses at best. Which is further misconstrued as written again by the author:

"We’ve charged law enforcement officers with the awesome responsibility of not only preventing violent crime and apprehending violent criminals, but we’ve further empowered them to act as the morality police, saving America from the evils of everything from cigarette smoke to cannabis to sex toys to, of all the crazy things – certain kinds of fat! Where does it end?

Officers don't have the awesome responsibility to prevent any crime, once again, they only investigate what is known after the crime has occurred. We citizens have enacted laws as a society in our local communities and those laws are enforced as best as possible by the budget given for officers hired for that specific duty.

And then the Author goes off the deep end with:
It has driven the major funding for organized crime and terrorism, created and maintains a black market so enormous that it rivals the wealthiest industries on Earth, and which has become directly responsible for far too much of the vigilante violence in our communities. It encourages everyone who would dare to taste the forbidden fruit to live outside of, and develop disrespect and disregard for, the laws of our land.

To which I respond....
Where is this so called Organized Crime and Terrorism?, and this so called Black Market sOoooooo enormous....and WHAT Vigilante Justice?, Can the author document a single crime where it can be shown that a Organized Crime member from the black market has participated in "vigilante Justice".....and on whom may I ask?.

Could it be that the delusions of a pothead author in some fantasy land not far from the Rahanaheesh farm ( Eastern Oregon ) has a desperate need to think we of a normal society would allow her pot smoking in public?, at sea?, on a hike?

I want my tax dollars rounding up Potheads, Crack heads, Truants, Sex predators, if that includes any of the commentors, then tough crap. I want my war on drugs, drugs are bad mmmmkay ?

So now this person wants to leave readers believing that police do not work in crime prevention? With no exceptions, all law enforcement agencies in the United States work in crime prevention and it is, along with the notion of "community policing", one of the mist successful policies that agencies rely on to reduce crime.

Each time an officer pulls over a car because they look suspicious, stop to talk to a suspect group that could be gang members walking down the sidewalk, they are again trying to anticipate something rather than react to it. At first I thought this individual was perhaps a police officer, claiming to know so much and be so critical, but now I suspect that not to be the case as people who actually work in law enforcement would never make that kind of a claim.

To lump pot smokers and truants in with sex offenders is about as low of a tactic as I have seen personally, that is really off the charts and underscores the ignorance that has perpetuated the nation's outdated and completely needless laws against marijuana that keep real predators out over a lack of jail space. Yeah old RedPaw, that really helps, have another beer, that'll help too.


Vic May 27, 2008 7:39 am (Pacific time)

One thing that has been overlooked here is the lucrative business of property seizure. A friend of mine lost a nearly new truck because he sold a $40 sack of pot to an undercover cop. He had another truck, an older one, but she (the cop) told him that she wanted to see his new truck when he came by. Not too long ago in Ptld, a guy got caught with 11 pot plants and lost: 1988 Corvette , boat, computers, printers, virtually everything of value. And he didnt even sell any...he was just growing it. On TV the cops were laughing while they were loading up his Corvette onto a trailer. The bottom line is that these laws are making millions of us criminals...and once you beome a criminal, other crimes are not so out of the question. Then it becomes us vs them ...the same mentality law enforcement has towards us. Maybe it is only proper that we hold this mindset...if they are going to prey on us, we should at least see things as they are. Our sosn just went to court for an illegal u-turn...he got fined $360. He will have to work a week and a half to pay for that crime. I say screw the cops and courts..they have become an economic enterprise that preys on the very people they are getting paid by and are supposed to "serve and protect".


POT-YOU-MENTARY.COM May 26, 2008 8:12 pm (Pacific time)

On this Memorial Day,Let us give thanks for the freedoms we enjoy to the Veterans of this country.And may we KEEP OURS FREEDOMS AND CHOICES.For,By,and Of the people. Medicinal Pot helps many veterans live with PTSD. Support THEIR rights to do so.


Henry Ruark May 26, 2008 3:48 pm (Pacific time)

Sophie: Didn't check, but memory tells me that would be strong sustainer-addition in Bush slash of funds for children's healthcare in long-established basic law. Dunno without check,but will bet any one of 50 states will appreciate addition to theirs for same purposes or those now deprived. That ain't hay we dialoging about, but dollars, better in place for remediation than rampant rumpus and risibilities.


Sophie May 26, 2008 2:44 pm (Pacific time)

How far do you think $70 million would go in paying for health care for American citizens.


Henry Ruark May 26, 2008 11:44 am (Pacific time)

Is et al: Appreciate your sensitive, insightful approach, and agree about 85 percent. Hve you ever noticed the continuing difficulty demonstrated generally by the Right, unable do differentiate political direction from the usual conscientious choice of "what's right" to DO -- especially to others ??


isuggest May 25, 2008 11:44 pm (Pacific time)

A little paranoid there, not gonna, but made some good points - failure of political system explains irrational approach to how people choose to live -Mannix exemplifies deficit - scumbag exploits fears of the unknown - most do not use marijuana - therefore fear is magnified and exploited by those who seek power - traitors to the constitution who only want control - insurance company lawyer Mannix - who lacks the cognitive ability to make the distinction between the rights of all to due process and ability to distinguish right from wrong.


not gonna happen May 25, 2008 11:21 pm (Pacific time)

They will never legalize drugs. That would cut into the black ops dirty money and besides, what would the CIA do with no more drugs to run, no more busts on their competition in the states? Its big business on both sides and will not end till the whole damn government is desolved and a new and just one for the good of mankind is put in place. Why no help for our future young adults for College? War machine soldiers and ROTC in schools taking advantage of hope in the young with dreams of bettering themselves (GI bill) even in abject poverty. Why do they seek to make all herbal medicines illegal? Big Pharma dollars plus population control. The only thing the government and the people hiding behind it understand is brute force. They glory in it, sell it morning noon and night. The only thing they respect is their own hides and their families lives. It will only get better if you make it happen on a level the policy makers understand.


isuggest May 25, 2008 11:10 pm (Pacific time)

Well - we live under fascism now. Abuse of authority - decisions made solely on the basis of political expediency - drug laws purely based on benefit of electability - fear conquers all.


farmerbob May 25, 2008 2:37 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks to Erin for another well written article. We really need to be more focused on what isnt happening while all our resources are being dumped into this insane war on drugs. Things like real criminals not being pursued, libraries and schools not being built etc. There has only been one law in the history of our country that actually decreased the use of dangerous drugs and it didnt criminalize any drugs or the people who used them.


John Peterson May 25, 2008 4:55 pm (Pacific time)

Beautifully written Erin. Thank you!


May 25, 2008 5:35 am (Pacific time)

Thanks to another warrior in this ludicris war on drugs.


Howard Beale May 25, 2008 8:27 am (Pacific time)

Well Said! The continued insanity of America's drug laws is a waste of money and law enforcement. Time for real change!


Vic & Glenda May 24, 2008 6:59 pm (Pacific time)

Great article ....couldnt agree more!


Henry Ruark May 24, 2008 6:42 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Erin's story tells it like it really is, wellknown now to many responsible journalists. Her key-phrase for me is: "No longer can we afford to funnel tens of billions of dollars annually into a 'War on Drugs,' which effectively ensures the perpetual funding of organized crime and terrorism." Not only does that apply directly to our national enforcement picture, but it applies in spades to costs now running well into the "unsustainable" level, made even worse by the "preemptive war" from which the erroneous concept of "terrorism" applied broadly for neocon political propaganda purposes arises.


jeff May 24, 2008 5:46 pm (Pacific time)

legalize da weed mon


c.d.h May 24, 2008 5:00 pm (Pacific time)

thank you well said

[Return to Top]
©2014 Salem-News.com. All opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Salem-News.com.
comments powered by Disqus


Articles for May 23, 2008 | Articles for May 24, 2008 | Articles for May 25, 2008
The NAACP of the Willamette Valley


Donate to Salem-News.com and help us keep the news flowing! Thank you.