The United States government has been at war with the marijuana plant ever since the 1930s. Politicians and members of law enforcement have waged the War on Drugs for decades, and have ruined countless lives. It is not just about the offender – the offender’s family suffers due to prohibition too. I know that first hand. My dad was SWAT raided three times when I was growing up, and it not only had a dramatic affect on his life, it had a dramatic affect on my life too. It led to all types of additional struggles and life hurdles that didn’t need to be there.
Was my dad a saint? By no means. But does he deserve to walk around with the marijuana scarlet letter the rest of his life for stuff that he did in the 1980’s and 90’s? For distributing a plant that is safer than alcohol? I think not. All three of my dad’s raids were for marijuana. Marijuana has been at the heart of the drug war since marijuana became prohibited. Its use is widespread, and as such, it gives members of law enforcement full reign to turn a person’s life upside down.
I once heard a state trooper here in Oregon say that he opposed marijuana legalization because he would ‘lose the ability to gain access to a suspects’ vehicle and personal belongings.’ The trooper explained that all he had to do was say that he smelled marijuana, and that’s all he needed. In a post-legalization world, he wouldn’t be able to use marijuana prohibition as an excuse to get around pesky constitutional rights.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was on one of my all-time favorite shows Meet the Press today and he made a comment about marijuana and the War on Drugs that made many people’s heads hurt. Below is what John Kelly had to say, via Politico:
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is “not a factor” in the war on drugs and that solving the nation’s drug problem does not involve “arresting a lot of users.”
Kelly, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was discussing his work to stop the flow of drugs into the United States from Central America and Mexico when host Chuck Todd asked whether legalizing marijuana would help or hurt his work.
“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,” Kelly responded, adding later: “It’s three things. Methamphetamine. Almost all produced in Mexico. Heroin. Virtually all produced in Mexico. And cocaine that comes up from further south.” Kelly said that in 2015 those three drugs, plus opiates, were responsible for the deaths of 52,000 people in the United States and cost the country $250 billion.
In 2015 a LOT of people were arrested for marijuana. 643,121 to be exact. That’s nearly half of all drug war arrests in America. For Mr. Kelly to claim that marijuana is ‘not a factor’ in the drug war is blatantly false. If marijuana was not a factor, there wouldn’t be so many people serving most if not all of their lives behind bars for marijuana. If marijuana was not a factor, sick patients would be able to get safe access to medical marijuana in every state in the country. Mr. Kelly’s comments are harmful, and someone should explain to him what a fool he looks like right now. Marijuana is VERY much a factor in the War on Drugs. Just as it has been for decades.