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Federal Budget: Economic Stimulus Bill Stimulates Drug War, Too

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #573)
Consequences of Prohibition

Law enforcement was among the winners in the massive economic stimulus bill passed last week by Congress and signed this week by President Obama. The package includes nearly $3.8 billion for state and local law enforcement, much of it destined for enforcing the country's draconian drug laws.

may be coming to a police force near you soon
The biggest single chunk of police money in the bill, $2 billion, goes to fund the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program. While Byrne JAG grant funds may be used for a variety of state and local criminal justice programs, including drug courts and drug treatment programs, the bulk of Byrne JAG spending has gone to fund multi-jurisdictional anti-drug task forces.

The Byrne JAG program has been criticized by fiscal conservatives and progressive reformers alike as ineffective and a waste of money. The Bush administration tried repeatedly to zero out funding for the program, but it was always reinstated -- albeit sometimes at lower levels -- by the Congress.

The second largest chunk of police spending in the bill, $1 billion, is for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program. It will pay to put thousands more police officers on the street.

The bill also includes $225 million in state and local law enforcement grants "to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system" and another $225 million for law enforcement assistance to Indian tribes. There is another $40 million in grants "to provide assistance and equipment" to police agencies along the Mexican border, with $10 million of that allocated for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for its Project Gunrunner aimed at reducing gun smuggling into Mexico. Another $125 million is destined for rural states and rural areas to prevent and combat crime, "especially drug-related crime."

Cops and elected officials are already salivating and have created huge wish lists. The public safety wish list from the US Conference of Mayors totaled $5.5 billion and includes items such as $1.6 million for SWAT equipment, $56,000 for military grade rifles, $625,000 for unmanned aerial surveillance drones, and $130,000 for "covert operations" in Arlington, Texas; $600,000 for a "live fire" SWAT team practice house and $420,000 for a SWAT armored vehicle in Sparks, Nevada; $3.5 million for "Air Tactical Unit Support and Equipment" (read: cool new helicopter) for Hampton, Virginia; and $60,000 for five "tactical entry rifles" and other equipment in Ottawa, Iowa. (See more wish list examples at Radley Balko's The Agitator.)

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Prohibition has created a toxic marketplace that pollutes the lives of many people.

Tell your kids: Don't buy marijuana! Getting high by making a lot of other people miserable isn't much fun.

Work for legalization, so we can all be happier.

Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:20am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

The vast majority of home growers do not get caught. But for those who do, most LEA in the country will not arrest you for 2 or 3 plants; they'll take the plants, but you won't go to jail. Some places they'll let you get by with up to 10 plants without arrest, check your state's laws before you plant one seed or clone. You can usually disguise one plant among a bed full of flowers and foliage plants; don't group them, it makes it easier to see them from the air. Additionally, grow them as horizontally as possible, tie down the branches to keep the profile low and so the surrounding plants hide them from view but not sunlight. If you grow them right, are careful and don't get caught, you can often get a whole year's supply for one smoker off three plants (depending on how heavy a smoker you are). I haven't grown any for a couple of years, I don't do much gardening of any kind anymore, but this worked for me for many years and I''m right under the flight path of my local airport.

I do not advise growing indoors, drug cops watch power bills and who buys indoor growing equipment, besides there's too much chance of pests like spider mites attacking your plants, indoors. North, where there is a short growing period, grow an indica strain, it matures 2 months sooner than sativa does.

If you do decide to grow your own, tell no one at all, not even your best friend; secrets get out because you tell just one person, and sooner or later they will tell just one person and the person they tell will eventually tell just one person, and pretty soon it's no secret anymore. If the secret does get out you could be ripped off by pot thieves or the police could be tipped off, so keep your mouth shut and you should be fine. It also doesn't hurt to be a "Johnny Cannabis-seed" and plant lots of cannabis seeds in public flower beds and those big public flowerpots, to keep them busy with eradicating those plants, and away from your home garden.

Sun, 02/22/2009 - 5:25pm Permalink

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