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Vested Interests? I’d say!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director September 24, 2008

    With the record number of cannabis arrests publicized last week, came the usual round of supporter and media inquiries about ‘who actually supports keeping America’s cannabis prohibition in place?’

    Without sounding overly jaded, it will not surprise many that a principle root of the problem here is ‘money’. In fact, our tax money.

    Washington DC’s Roll Call newspaper had an article last week (10/15/08, pg 9, under the very aptly entitled ‘Vested Interests‘ section) that highlights one of the major sources for cannabis arrests in the United States, and how it’s possible demise in future might have positive effects for cannabis consumers in the coming years. One can argue that a major source of the steady increase in cannabis arrests circa 1992 corresponds closely with the massive federal funding received by local, county and state law enforcement departments in a block grant funding program administered by the United States Department of Justice called the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program, known to policy wonks as ‘Byrne/JAG’. The over $500 million in annual funds funneled to state and local law enforcement agencies have largely help establish multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency ‘anti-drug’ task forces that 1) feast on civil forfeiture laws (which often allow law enforcement, not elected politicians, to divide up seized assets labeled ‘drug money’) and 2) run around claiming that America is ‘winning the war on drugs’ or that ‘legalizing cannabis sends the wrong message to children’.

    However, over the years a curiously quite and bipartisan effort has been forged to strip down Byrne/JAG from an $520 million annual appropriation to $170 million. That is a real cut in funding, even by the Beltway’s standard voodoo math! President Bush’s budget office, with support from powerful Republicans in the House and Senate, along with the current Democratic leadership, appear poised to engage in one of the most fundamental changes in criminal justice policy in the last 20 years: A de-escalation–an actual reduction–in federal government spending that helps fuels the war on some drugs. And this from Bush 2.0 and the Democratic leadership (who usually don’t agree on much these days), and despite broad support in Congress for law enforcement getting what they want (218 House members, and 56 Senator have signed a letter insisting that Byrne/JAG receive full funding in the proposed federal budget) seem to be, behind the scenes in government, checking some of the excesses of modern federal drug warring.

    We’ll see.

    ‘Release The Hounds!’
    Shockingly, the political and financially self-interested opposition to the cuts are now wagering an aggressive lobbying campaign in DC to restore what they think is theirs–which, in fact, is our tax money.

    An alliance of 30 law enforcement and local government group, including prohibition boosters such as the National Criminal Justice Association, National Alliance of Drug Enforcement Agencies, the International Chief of Police Association and the National Governors Association have been lobbying Congress to have the funding restored in a different spending vehicle.

    Roll Call reports: Ronald Brooks, president of the National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, which represents some 40,000 local, state and federal narcotic officers redoubled their efforts this spring working to get more money. …

    “Many of our supporters were stunned that it had been cut out in the 11th hour by the leadership and the administration (editor’s note: the ‘it’ Narco Brooks refers to is our tax dollars!). To add insult to injury, $684 million went into foreign aid to assist foreign law enforcement.”

    Along with drug policy reform and civil liberty groups, reformers are now joined in supporting this historic reduction in Byrne/JAG funding by ‘conservative’ taxpayer-watchdog groups like Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform and Citizens Against Government Waste.

    NORML will report to supporters in near future regarding the final outcome of the Byrne/JAG appropriation in this Congress.

    12 Responses to “Vested Interests? I’d say!”

    1. leaving florida soon says:

      Yep.. Money is exactly what it’s about. When I was arrested for cultivation the cops kept telling me “it’s only business” while trying to question me they asked more questions about my truck,tv,motorcycle,and atv than they did about anything illegal I might have done.
      You know, “what’s the mileage on that truck” “Nice bike! have you paid it off yet?”.

      No surprise when they called me into the contact room to flaunt that they’d seized all that stuff, and a hell of a lot more. A lot of it they never admitted they took I guess that stuff just went home with them.
      I hope they enjoyed my dirtbike.

      Here’s how it works they bust you right away your charged with cultivation & trafficking they know their over charging you, but because trafficking carries a 3 year mandatory minimum you don’t get bond until you see a judge. When and if he grants you bond you can bond out if you can afford it, mine was over $100,000 so your family will have to put up their house(if they have one) & $10,000+ they will never see again.

      Now your out, but you can’t go home because the judge has ordered you to stay away from your own home, so your homeless.
      At this point you have had everything you own of any value taken by the government, you are homeless with only the closes on your back. Now you have to get a lawyer here’s where things get even more expensive a good attorney is going to cost you $30,000 you may find one cheaper but the better an attorney is the more they charge if you go with the public defender I promise you, You will go to prison for three years! Public defenders not only don’t give a shit they are totally incompetent, Honestly they are worst than no attorney at all!

      At this point your 40k+ in dept and homeless. After a month your lawyer gets the judge to let you go back to your home. When you get there you find the place completely wrecked doors off the frame,walls knocked out,all appliances and the central air destroyed. Oh also for some reason they felt it necessary to chop down a tree in the front yard I think they were testing out my Ax witch they also seized. You then check the mail and find a $25,000 bill from the power company because the police told them you’ve been steeling power. No you weren’t steeling because your not a criminal but the accusation is enough.

      The reason for all this fuss, over charging you, destroying your home,lying to the power company was to drive up your cost in hope that you won’t be able to afford to hire an attorney to defend you in the civil seizure. Also if you get locked up in the end the sheriff gets $23,500 year to keep you in his jail.

      The hole system is corrupt from the politicians down though I did think the judges seemed fair everyone else is just lining up to rob you.

      I never moved back to my home the police left it completely unlivable. With no electricity and having no money to repair the house or pay the mortgage I decided to let it go into foreclosure. So I guess it’s one of the houses the government will be buying to bail out the banks.

      In the end all of you get to pay for the police’s vandalism, Witch is funny because you also paid for the cops to wreck the place to begin with.

    2. Bruno says:

      “leaving florida soon” – Wow. That’s nuts. I’m sorry to hear that. I would go postal if put through shit like that.

      On the article – Does anyone know the potential job loss rates that will be caused by cutting the appropriations? And also, what is the impact to us? Is this lack in funding going to eliminate anti-drug agencies? Is it going to keep fewer “Drug Warriors” from harassing the people?

    3. Asemili says:

      A budget cut would either 1) Make police stop focusing as much on the drug war OR 2) Make police more dependant on asset seizure, thereby escalating the drug war

    4. trey says:

      Law enforcement is driven by money. Marijuana is a great source of money for the police. Not only do they get to seize assets they also can fill the prison system with cash cows (Marijuana Users). Because of this absurd corruption I hope Obama gets voted in.

    5. philmcneal says:

      hey leaving flordia soon was that all from a joint? holy cow

    6. well you know, thats just another way to remove our freedoms, no life, liberty, and you better not persue any happyness that WE dont get our cut. heres how to fix it, they want tax money, 400 trillion a week, off of income tax only(do the math). 350 million people in the U.S.A. well i say im taking a week off with no pay they can tax. that not enough, take a week more, not enough, a month. see the gov cry we need your money, they would collapse the first week. IT’S MY FREEDOM and I WANT IT NOW!!! i guess i would be killed and called a terroist oooooo, all american patriot baby. we let this happen them many years ago. they sure can dupe people, they are just as bad or worse then the (claimed bad guys) of our country.just stand up for our freedom ALL TOGETHER, NOW!!! cant wait another 4 years. RON PAUL for prez!!! peace be with us, in control. ues paper ballot, comp’s are rigged. AMEN!!!

    7. It’s all about making noise, showing them that we do have power, and tightening whatever can around their necks until they submit. Let there be no misgivings – this is a War. The DEA, the US government wants a war, and I say we give it to them. We as a people have to become much more active than we have been, but we can fight them off and restore our liberties. Anyone in North Carolina interested in Grassroots efforts, email me through my blog. http://theundercoverconservative.wordpress.com

    8. 1stAmendment says:

      How can the government spend tax payer dollars to promote controversial political opinions. Isn’t that coerced speech? It wouldn’t be legal if a law was passed requiring people to tithe to religions they don’t agree with so how can this be legal. Someone needs to challenge this. They want to have nonpolitical speech such as speech generally about marijuana that doesn’t openly advocate either a pro- or anti- legalization standpoint, fine but funding one side of a political issue with our tax dollars definitely crosses the line.

    9. mattguitarman13 says:

      GO RON PAUL!!!!

      965 billion dollars slips through the cracks in the system every year. Conveniently thats roughly how much is collected in Fed income taxes. Let US keep OUR money and stop telling us whats best for US. The Gov only has the power that WE grant it so lets not ask their permission lets tell them how things are gonna be and if they don’t like it….tough shit.

    10. [...] law reformers, myself included, have spilled volumes of ink commenting on the numerous reasons and vested interests responsible for the continued prohibition of cannabis. But while these lengthy writings may be [...]

    11. lo9an says:

      Unfortunately Obama and the Democrats are continuing to wage a war on drugs. Contrary to the hopes of millions of Americans, Congress appropriated even more money towards this program!

      Apparently Obama is doing like Clinton, and incarcerating more and more people for simple possession and consumption of the beneficial plant known as cannabis! Only time will tell. Hopefully this money is provided for counseling and treatment services and not enforcement of draconian and unjust laws!

      http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/574/2009_omnibus_appropriations_bill_byrne_grant_drug_spending

    12. Jack Eich says:

      the so called drug war,or as I call it is really a war on citzens. Its all about making money by stealing from the public in the name of saving the children. our police and drug task forces are nothing but profit making organizations. they steal from people while saying they are winning a drug war. Its theft pure and simple. the cops are crooked and use the term drug war to take what you have. Its a form of communism and making war on americans. shame on our cops and government.

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