NYPD's Mindless Response to Accusations of Overzealous Marijuana Enforcement

Let's revisit once again this week's excellent NYCLU study of marijuana arrests in New York City. It illuminates several embarrassing facts, which the architects of this disgusting policy would prefer to keep concealed. Among them:

*A shocking increase in arrests from 45,300 between 1988 and 1997 up to 374,000 between 1998 and 2007
*A sustained violation of the spirit of New York's marijuana laws, which hold that citizens should not be arrested for small amounts of concealed marijuana
*Stark and unexplainable racial disparities. 83% of arrestees were black or Latino even though whites are more likely to use marijuana
*Similarly disturbing gender disparities. 90% of arrestees were male, even though women and men use marijuana at similar rates
*The appalling hypocrisy of NY mayor Michael Bloomberg who presides over these arrests despite his admission that he's enjoyed marijuana in the past
*A profit motive behind the arrests wherein police deliberately make marijuana collars at the end of their shift so that they can collect overtime pay while processing the offender

Now that these ugly revelations have been exposed, what does NYPD have to say in its defense? Exactly what one might expect:
In an official comment on the study, the Police Department was critical of the role played by the New York Civil Liberties Union in publicizing the report and noted that the research had been backed, in part, by the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports legalization. [NY Times]
Um, pardon me, but what the hell does that have to do with anything? The report is accurate. Complaining that it was publicized by its authors and that it was funded by supporters of marijuana policy reform is irrelevant. Of course police are angry that this went public. It's embarrassing. And of course it was funded by critics of marijuana laws. Who else would fund it? The Heritage Foundation? I don’t think so.

So the Marijuana Policy Project is biased, they say, but NYPD sees no conflict of interest when defending the same laws that its officers are paid overtime to enforce? The arrogance of this couldn’t possibly be overstated, but I guess there wasn't much else to say. If everything in the report is true, all you can really do is call the author a jerk.

So in order to avoid ridiculously dumb drug policy debate tactics in the future, let's just get one thing straight once and for all: if people who oppose marijuana laws aren't allowed to criticize marijuana enforcement, then people who support marijuana laws shouldn't be allowed to defend it. Does that sound fair?
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Catch-22 Meets the Drug War

When it comes to low level marijuana busts, perhaps the NYPD and the New York City Mayor’s Office are failing to clean up their act because to do so would be an admission of their guilt in a race-based scheme to “whiten-up” New York by enabling certain cops to make extra money working the system.  The situation forces the NYPD to continue making harassment pot busts on minorities as if nothing is unusual.

It’s the same reason George W. Bush won’t tell us why the United States is still occupying Iraq.  A truthful explanation would reveal why Bush and the Neocons invaded Iraq in the first place.

The problem in New York won’t go away by itself, not through good faith nor by any voluntary efforts on the part of New York’s municipal government or cops.  A successful remedy will call for force, perhaps by filing a federal (not state or municipal) lawsuit, maybe citing the equal protection of the laws clause, or by engaging a superior government authority to inspect the situation and take corrective action against the city.

Giordano

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