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Defenders of the War on Marijuana Don't Have a Clue Who They're Hurting

The debate over New York City's out-of-control marijuana arrest crusade is getting heated, which is exactly what needs to happen. Forced at last to defend this grand travesty before an angry public, the mayor's office is now trying to convince everyone that this epidemic of constitutional violations and racial profiling is somehow good for the community:

The Bloomberg administration says that by arresting more than 350,000 people for having small amounts of marijuana since 2002, the police have helped drive down serious crime — and that the consequences for the people locked up have been minimal.

Nearly 90 percent of those arrested on charges of personal possession of marijuana are black or Latino, although its use by young white people is rampant in affluent quarters of the city.

Faced with criticism from members of the City Council and the State Legislature, aides to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have emphasized that few of those arrested on pot charges actually end up with criminal convictions because most cases are dismissed and sealed after one year. In effect, they say, the arrest process itself — which can stretch for 24 hours or more, under squalid conditions in holding pens — is the extent of the punishment. (NYT)

It's amazing enough that any sane person would make light of being thrown in a crowded, disgusting jail in New York City. With the exception of the apparently large number of minor marijuana offenders, I'd really rather not meet most of the people who had to be removed from the streets of NYC on a given day. But that's just the beginning:

Yet there are other, hidden consequences, say lawyers and advocates who work with those arrested. People regularly lose jobs for missing work as they wait to see a judge or because their employers do not want anyone connected with even minor drug offenses on the payroll, said Marlen Bodden, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society.

“They’re clogging the courts and ruining people’s lives, in terms of potential collateral consequences for housing, employment, immigration,” said Steven Banks, the attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society, which represented 30,000 people in minor marijuana cases last year.

It's incredible that someone would even have to explain how getting arrested for drugs actually does really, really suck. Obvious truths such as these are routinely and nonchalantly obscured by drug war defenders any time an issue like this comes into focus, and it's easy to lose sight of how genuinely and uniquely ridiculous each and every such statement truly is. Getting arrested for marijuana isn't a big deal? Seriously?

Apologists for mass marijuana arrests will compare the whole process to giving out parking tickets right up until the point when we propose legislation to actually treat marijuana that way, at which point they will predictably go ballistic. The same idiots who claim that we need tough penalties to "send the right message to our young people," will turn around in an instant and announce in the newspaper that the punishment for marijuana is just a slap on the wrist. That's how desperate, dishonest, and confused the proponents of marijuana prohibition have become, and it's a step forward for reform any time we can force them to open their mouths.

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It does suck.

They have no proof for their claim about crime. That's just grasping for an excuse. This is exactly where the "solution" or "response" does more harm to the victim than the pot use itself ever could. Their minds are so dialed into the traditional paradigm they are blind to the bigger picture.

Imagine a parent who beats his child for taking a cookie from the cookie jar. He's beating away and suddenly a light goes on in his head and he stops and says "OH GOD, what am I doing!" He wakes up from his misguided delusional state and sees what he's doing for what it really is. Cruel, needless and damaging. This is what has to happen with these drug warriors. They need to be enlightened, somehow.

Why even bother with a slap on the wrist anyway? Why is that necessary? Why can't it just be OK? The only message they succeed in sending is that they are assholes, nobody is deterred. Getting arrested for dried flowers in your pocket is a holdover 19th century attitude. Prohibition is a 19th century policy concept. Isn't it true that NY State was the first state to repeal alcohol prohibition at the state level in 1923? They seemed to get it then, why not now?

Well Hillary said it would

Well Hillary said it would cost too much!  

It's the most convincing argument I've heard.

primus's picture

Mayor Bloomberg is Jewish. 

Mayor Bloomberg is Jewish.  If this program was aimed at jailing mostly Jews, he would be calling it a racist pogrom.  The fact that he does not apply the same terminology to what is happening to black and brown people tells me one thing: Mayor Bloomberg is a racist and a bigot.  QED.


I know this isn't going to be a popular comment, but here's how I'm seeing the situation. Marijuana is illegal. I know this organization is dedicated to changing that status, but the fact remains that it's illegal. Having to spend a night in jail, as horrible as it would be is nothing compared to the 3-9 months that kind of a charge could bring if the courts decided to pursue each and every case, which they could do if they so desired. And a night in jail is justified, because marijuana is illegal, no matter the quantity. You can't complain about losing work or having negative reprecussions for being arrested for marijuana when the truth of the matter is, it's still illegal. You can complain about it being illegal and work to change that status, but until the day that it is no longer illegal, there's no room to complain for suffering the consequences of partaking in illegal acts.

As for it not preventing other more serious crimes, anyone who has read the book Tipping Point knows the story of how in the 80s or 90s the police started cracking down on minor traffic violations and in turn the murder rate and other violent crime rates took a sharp drop. Obviously there is no way to say definitively that the traffic stops caused that, but the evidence is compelling. I'm sure there is similar evidence in play here.

Now I'll not try and excuse any racial profiling or other such actions, clearly they are wrong and have no place in our society, but to say Bloomberg is racist is absurd.

Like I said, I'm sure this won't be a popular opinion, but this is how I see things.

Going 1mph over the speed

Going 1mph over the speed limit is against the law! With todays techonolgy ever driver on ever street could be sent a ticket. Walking across a street other than at an intersection is against the law(j-walking) and to could be enforced with cameras. Is this right? There have been many laws that are simple wrong. There many old law still on the books that law enforcement will not enforce.Why? Because they know it is not right. The times have changed.Ask yourself is it right to cause harm to someone who has cause no harm to others. Such thinking is how millions died in germany  some years ago IT WAS THE LAW! Next time you are in your car and notice you have gone over the speed limit please turn yourshelf in.IT IS THE LAW.

Re: Good


I'm sure this will come as quite a shock to you, but carrying anything under an ounce of marijuana in New York isn't actually even illegal unless you deliberately display the marijuana in public. New York Times and numerous other publications have documented the widespread practice at NYPD of claiming that marijuana was discovered in public view when it wasn't. There are serious questions about the legality of any of this. I'd like to hear your thoughts again after you've studied the issue more closely.


Take care,


Not to be Blunt


Mr Dun.

The support of a law is upheld only by its legitimacy.  Every law, bureaucratic institution, social structure is a fabricated and purely abstract concept created by our collective social conscience. If a man were to decide to transcend these laws, its only justifiable if it doesn't even tangentially infringe on another individual's liberties.  

Smoking is a personal choice. No other person is being coerced into ingesting the subject. Cannabis is not harmful, so the individual isn't endangering himself either.

So if something like cannabis doesn't endanger anyone at all there is no reason something as abstract as a politicians  personal preference should limit the life choices of his/her constituency.

The support of a law is upheld only by its legitimacy.

The legitimacy of a law is determined by whether it hurts good people or not, this law DOES hurt good people, millions of good people, therefore, this law is illegitimate.  Any law that criminalizes consensual, victimless behaviors, or imposes any restriction on even one person's unalienable rights, is absolutely unconstitutional (unless that person has interfered with the unalienable rights of another so that his/her rights have been temporarily restricted as punishment -- for assault/murder, kidnapping/unlawful imprisonment, theft, fraud or destruction of property). Juries should be fully informed of their right to acquit any defendant who is prosecuted under an unconstitutional/unjust law, but judges won't inform juries of that right, and the prosecutor, if he learns that a potential juror knows about this right, will do all that is possible to prevent that juror from serving on that jury.  Therefore, so many get convicted when it is the law that is in the wrong, not the defendant(s). This long standing right of juries is called jury nullification and you can learn more about it here: &

Gladwell Supports Drug Law Reform

Publisher’s Weekly panned Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point; in the critique section, and they did it this way:

“…many parents may be alarmed at his advice on drugs: since teenagers' experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, seldom leads to hardcore use, he contends, ‘We have to stop fighting this kind of experimentation. We have to accept it and even embrace it.’”

As far as little things having big consequences, which is the gist of the book by Gladwell, that’s only true part of the time.  It’s possible for it to happen, but that’s about it.  Without a mechanism or some empirical evidence to support a direct cause-and-effect relationship, all one is left with is a strange correlation.


slavery was the law as well



I am willing to bet that the Mayor would(if he doesn't already)have owned a few himself.Saying something is illegal so you just can't do it is absurd.Not popular,it's a foolish and idiotic stance.

I'm pretty sure every one of our 'Founding Fathers' . . .

People's ideas always change over time.


I'm pretty sure that all of our 'Founding Fathers' were LEGAL slave owners. They bought into the complete exploitation of others because those around them, in their society and class, all did the same without question. But they understood psychology and society, so they tried to set up our government in a way that was flexible to our changing ideas. We 'The People' do question this policy from many sides, just like they did with alcohol, and since we are The People, we can change the law.


Let's kick some political butt.

Living with blinders are we?

I will keep this short, since you are aware that your comment was somewhat simpleminded. How many police have died because marijuana is illegal? Take off your blinders and take a look from outside the box. In America it's the people who decide the laws and political figures, so to change laws, they must be broken. This is why court cases are cited when referring to our laws and various amendments. Don't ever tell an American that they cannot complain about a failed policy put in place by an out of control government held aloft by lobbyists and the super wealthy. As for the crime rate drop, well it's been over 20 years since the book you cited was written. Ask the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) members. They will give you actual facts about frontline reality. Educate yourself!! Outgrow the gov!

Drugs are NOT illegal

"I know this isn't going to be a popular comment, but here's how I'm seeing the situation. Marijuana is illegal. I know this organization is dedicated to changing that status, but the fact remains that it's illegal." Um, that's not true. Marijuana is not illegal. All the lies in the world doesn't change the law. If you want it to be illegal, then change the law. In NY state, the state Constitution reads: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. " Due process is NOT the legislature saying "you must obey us because we say so". Rights can not be taken away by legislative fiat. The prohibition of the rights of life, liberty, and property is not legal. Politicians lie - but they don't have the power under state and federal constitution to deny us our rights. If they want to do so constitutionally, they must change the constitutions so that no rights are recognized.


90%.When did the population of New York become 90% black or hispanic?That's what says Bloomberg is a racist.Telling people that they can't complain is so GWBush.It's no surprise to me that there are people that just want us to shut up.We've been hearing that for years.It's the prohibitionists only argument.

Sam Dunn the Dunce

Mr Dunn

I will bet any money that you have broken the law in some way - We all have! - So get off your soapbox and stop preaching that you are so pure and perfect. Marijuana is no less harmful than smoking and weed is much better that alcohol - When was the last time you read about a pot smoker beating his wife or kids (I mean on pot ONLY) - Answer most likely never. As for being against the law - Well thats so we can persecute people who have done nothing to harm others - Its an American Redneck way of doing things and by the love of God you sir are a redneck idiot. Even Jesus says let the man who has not sinned cast the first stone, I guess if you where there it would be you to throw the stone because your so pure - Yeah Right!!!

Mr. Dunn Most of my life I

Mr. Dunn


Most of my life I lived in jurisdictions in which oral sex between a man and a woman was illegal even if they were married.  I am happy to report I broke those laws as often as I could as well. 

The LAW.

Justice has obviously not been served. Please turn yourself in, the very fabric of our nation depends on it.

Please, Please Mr. Dunn TURN

Please, Please Mr. Dunn TURN YOURSELF IN!  You have broken traffic laws!  You have broken oral sex laws!  You are probably breaking laws right now!  TURN YOURSELF IN IMMEDIATELY TO THE AUTHORITIES!


Hurry! ASAP! Our entire society is going to hell in a handbasket while you thoughtlessly retain your freedom for nefarious reasons. Can't you see the potholes just appearing in the streets? Can't you see how the Banksters are having to force themselves to accept more dough, just to make up for your sins? And since you have refused for so long to do the right thing, you must face life at hard 'slave' labor. Then, and only then, America will be made whole again and the banksters will give us back our money.

Others have adequately taken

Others have adequately taken you to task for not noticing that when an unjust law is being applied, it is the people who enforce it, not the people who contravene it, who are acting immorally, so I'll just add this:

Mr Bloomberg may not be _consciously_ racist, in the sense that he does not harbour a personal prejudice against ethnic minorities, but he acquiesces in a system which is applied in a racist manner, and has not tried to even out the racial disparities in the application of drug prohibition. So he is, at best, unconcerned about racism in drug policy, which is not too many shades off being a full-blown bigot.

Re: Good

I got bad news for you Sam. According to crime statistics on the FBI`s website, murder and violent crime actually increased from the mid 80`s to the mid 90`s. Ever heard of the crack cocaine epidemic?  Maybe you should throw that book called "Tipping Point" into the trash. The so-called "evidence" that you claim it contains is obviously phony. I`ll definitely not be reading it.

Re: Sam Dunn

I understand your some upstanding citizen by the looks of your comment Mr Sam Dunn and theres nothing wrong with following the law, but when a law violates human rights and causes suffering to millions around the world, people must break these laws in order to show opposition to them. Were in The United States of America If laws werent opposed and broken then there would be no way or process to challenege a law thats unconstitutional. You cant say talk to your polititcians or leaders and have the laws changed because marijuana is prejudged and they wont hear it, so the only way is to break the law and show them were opposed to there beleifs so that we can cause a revolution of some sort,revolutions in fact are what built this nation.Somehow over time are Nation has become corrupt and unjust with ignorant people as yourself who have no compassion or common sense...First the common sense part theres 100,000's of studies proving marijuana is safer than alcohol or tobbacco, 2nd my younger brother is a cancer patient 18 years old and over the last few years battling cancer its beaten him so badly to the point he has the strength of an 80 year old man dieng and in pain, suffering hes been giving every narcotic on known to man on this planet...I would cry every night watching him suffer from withdrawls from insanely high amounts of painkillers, him asking me to smother him or kill him put him out of his misery...he would cry every night in agony from the pain of the cancer and from the withdrawls for 2 years Him and I endured that. I dont know if you realize how much he suffered or people in his situation do suffer but one night I brought him some marijuana and it was about the most touching moment I had with my brother because it was the first time in 2 and half years I saw a smile on his face...I almost broke down because of the stigma against pot and how just a couple puffs literly releived every ounce of nausea he had every pain...and also another thing my brother wouldnt eat for weeks and sometimes a month at a time because the chemo would make him deathly sick to the point he couldnt keep anything down, part of the fact he was given only 1 year to live max because he was wasting away each day  by day.. well The pot actually gave him his appetite back and he started gaining weight started getting healthier , and the best thing of all its 3 years later and the 1 year they gave my brother to live has passed. The doctor has told us many times over that if it wasnt for me illegally providing my little brother with pot then we would not be alive today 100% for a fact...So the next time Sam Dunn you talk out of your ass  and say ignorant things like you did...I want you to know because of the prohibiton of this God given herb many people arent as lucky as my little brother and they die as a result of the illegality of it...Your a coward Sam Dunn, its people like you who hold this country down, If it werent for people like myself you stand up for what we beleive in and many other freedom fighters..are country would be down the drain...I truly am glad I know I have millions of brothers who fight this fight with me and they know one day because we oppose the stigma against pot that are future generations will have a sensible marijuana policy that will benefit all of society and prevent tragic deaths from occurring..this is just step 1...Legalization needs to occure with all drugs because just like marijuana there are so many problems with prohibition of other drugs to. I FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT AND I DO IT WHETHER MARIJUANAS ILLEGAL OR LEGAL!!

Praise you

Well spoken my friend very well spoken. United and strong we can be heard, let's all work together to end this war!!!

All Drug War Hypocrites Should Turn Themselves In

If Obama, W, Clinton, every political leader and every public figure who's admitted to past illegal drug use were retroactively, by grounds of their admissions, subject to the arrests, convictions and penalties of drug laws- then the drug war would end tomorrow.

Tipping Point? Try Freakonomics!

In the latter book Steven Levitt and partner pointed out that while police severity and "Crack Down on Pot" Giuliani (who received most tobacco money of all 2008 Primary candidates) have received credit for crime reductions, a case can be made that it was the Supreme Court in their 1973 Roe vs Wade decision that got the job done.  The crime slowdown, according to Levitt, starts to show up about 1988 when the vanguard of post-1973 aborted fetuses, whose mothers had "nicotine guilt" or thought they couldn't both hold a job and raise a baby, would have been reaching trouble-making late teen years.

"Don't have a clue who they're hurting"?

Supporters of the drug war don't CARE who they hurt -- as long as they get to hurt somebody.


I firmly believe that there are quite a few prohibitionists who are bona fide sadists. And I think there are many who just don't care who they hurt, because, as they say "It's worth it if it saves the life of just one kid." 


So, I think some of them get immense pleasure from seeing people suffer, and the "for the children" line is just a way for them to deal with their cognative dissonence, justifying their stance. Some of them believe religiously that the drug war is actually helping people, and they ignore the suffering it causes, again, to deal with thier cognative dissonence.


I wish more people would read 1984... again.

Good? NOT!

Mr. Dunn:  As Scott already pointed out, the "marijuana is illegal" argument doesn't apply in this case.  But the truth is that it doesn't apply in ANY case.  With the possible exception of patent laws, giving drug companies the right to patent new drugs for a LIMITED time, every single drug law on the books in this country is illegal.  Not only are the laws illegal, the way they are enforced violates every constitutional right, every civil right and every human right of every person on this planet.  Not just drug users -- everybody.  After all, how will they KNOW you're a drug user if they don't first violate your privacy? 

Why don't you watch the video of the killing of Jose' Guerena, then preach to us about what's legal.  The truth is that drug cops break more laws in ONE DAY than most of us do in a lifetime.  And unlike our crimes, EVERY ONE of theirs has victims.

Could be another reason for these arrests



Jail is a really bad trip.This from a guy who has spent twelve years in various prisons,jails and lock ups.For a first offender the uncertainty alone is so stressful that a lot of people who really face very limited punishment are coerced into informing just to get the cuffs off.I am not saying that this is a major reason for this kind of travesty but I would be really interested to know how many first offenders roll.Once a person is turned they become a valuable resource,if they aren't killed first.I was informed on every time I ended up in prison and usually by a person who would have gotten probation at the very worst.I have never been convicted of anything but drug possession.

Jesus said to do unto others

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.


The current proposal before Congress, bill HR 2306, will remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances while allowing states to decide how they will regulate it. Email your Congressperson and Senators at  and ask them to sign on as a CO-SPONSOR of HR 2306.


For more info, here’s the USA Today article



And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom-loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great service for all of America!

Free the weed dummy's

The law againt weed is so stupid...No one in this world that is in controle can seem to think.

So let me give you all some thing to think abought..let us make it simple so even a child can the weed dummys, and i say dummys for a very good reson......How many cops like to go out and drink, dance, show their tails a little???

And when your working. what do you do??? bust harmless pot smokers... correct???but their are still other drugs to bust people for,, right??? what do you think responsible pot smoker are going to do if you make weed legal???what did all the booze drinkers do???they joined the war on fight for it not against it. right???? well duh...all you big dummy's...your throwing away a army to help you fight for your well as a chance to make jobs for every one. and to help people in need of their weed med right..


I mean really think about it..weed cant kill don't kill brain help ease pain, stress ,anxiety and can reduce you from gettin some forms of cancer.

you can make all kinds of stuff from its strong fiber.

it can be full grown in 3 months.

and unlike booze when high on weed one can still make good clear minded judgement...all though one might be a little more giggly when conversing.

people who smoke weed most times what to be helpful not hurtful...really dummy's its time to free the weed..

Don't you think???  Sorry I had to put it to you this way...But as forest gump once said.and I quote  Stupid is what stupid does.  Weed is not a drug...its a plant and it's medicine...and it is fruit bearing plant...that GOD put here for our use...YOU BIG DUMMYS....

Legalize it!

To be honest, the amount of money the government will get by legalizing and taxing marijuana is by far greater than the money it is spending to fight marijuana. If you combine the savings and the revenue you end up with a lot more money to be used towards things like healthcare, education, and social security.

Excellent Point

Not to mention we wouldn't be funding a global drug war (Mexico, Afghanistan (opium), etc.) through the world's largest black market for drugs, ours.

LAW: The New God

The LAW is there for a reason!  The LAW is not to be questioned!  Those who question the LAW will lose favor of the LAW!  Those who break the LAW will be devoured by the LAW!  Those who adhere to the LAW will be subjected to more LAW! In LAW We Trust!

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