How’s the war on marijuana going? Just ask those on the front lines – cops. But don’t necessarily expect an honest answer.
The New York Times is reporting that cops, probation officers and border patrol agents throughout the nation have been fired for questioning whether we should continue to criminalize possession of marijuana. See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/us/officers-punished-for-supporting-eased-drug-laws.html?_r=1&hpw
When U.S. Border Patrol Agent Bryan Gonzalez told a fellow agent that criminalization of marijuana was leading to drug-related violence across the border in Mexico, he was fired.
When Joe Miller, a probation officer in Arizona, added his name to a letter written by LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – he too lost his job. Same for Jonathan Wender, a police sergeant in Washington State, who lost his job as a result of his support for decriminalizing marijuana. Maybe these front-line law enforcement officers know something the politicians in Washington don’t?
Honest and thoughtful police officers and prosecutors have told time and again that marijuana prosecutions are a waste of time and resources – off the record of course. But when the government declares a “war” on drugs, those people in the know – front line cops and probation officers – lose their freedom of speech.
Of course criminalization leads to cross-boarder violence, as rival drug gangs battle for control of a multi-billion dollar U.S. marijuana market. (estimates are between 10 and 12o billion annually – see: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics/How-Big-Is-The-Marijuana-Market–91699359.html
When you fire a agent for saying what everybody else is thinking, you send a message that dissent, even thoughtful dissent, won’t be tolerated.
The “war on drugs” was declared by Richard Nixon in June 1971. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9252490 After 4o years, it is a fair question to ask, how’s it going? And the voices of thoughtful people in law enforcement and probation are especially important.
But some good news, Mr. Wender, the fired Washington State police sergeant, sued his police department for wrongful termination and won an $815,000 settlement. http://ssdp.org/news/blog/leap-cop-wins-suit-after-being-fired-for-criticizing-drug-war
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