America Must Wean Law Enforcement From Their Marijuana Arrest Addiction

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 20, 2010

    George1By George Rohrbacher, Member, NORML Board of Directors

    In America since 1965, there have been 21 million arrests for marijuana, 9 out of 10 for quantities of an ounce or less. Over 800,000 were arrested for pot last year, with people of color and the young being arrested and incarcerated in hugely disproportionate numbers. Under current Washington State law, if arrested for possession of even the tiniest amount of cannabis, a person faces a mandatory night in jail, handcuffs, mugshots, fingerprints, and a criminal record that, thanks to the internet and data-mining, might follow a person for the rest of their life.

    The Mexican Cartels have murdered tens of thousands of people in their own country and now their violence is spilling over the boarder into America. Sales of marijuana in the US are estimated to account for half of the Cartels’ revenue stream. By simply legalizing pot, by taking the business and the profits of marijuana out of the hands of these criminals, taxing and regulating cannabis would be a devastating blow to organized crime. And at the same time, regulation would ensure our citizens that standards of purity and potency had been met.

    California, Oregon and Washington have all had marijuana legalization initiatives filed this year. California’s initiative already has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and recent polling of likely voters found that 56% plan to vote, “Yes”, on the measure come November. California’s Board of Tax Equalization has estimated that the legalization of cannabis will bring $1.4 billion in new tax revenues to the state’s cash-strapped municipalities.

    This month, a Pew Charitable Trust poll found that 73% of all Americans are in favor of legal access to marijuana as medicine. Used as medicine for over 4,500 years, the DEA’s own Chief Administrative Law Judge, Francis L. Young ruled: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man…” Without even holding a hearing, and over the objections of the American Medical Association, all uses of cannabis were outlawed by Congress in 1937. Since California’s passage of Prop 215 in 1996, 14 states have now taken back their medical marijuana rights from the Feds. Much safer than aspirin (gastric bleeding, death) or Tylenol (liver damage, death), marijuana is safer than virtually every other over-the-counter and prescription medicine for sale in America. Cannabis is also far safer, as a recreational drug, than either the very speedily deadly alcohol or the slowly lethal tobacco. Marijuana is not only safer for the individual, but it is safer for the society, too. A Seattle Police Sgt. patrolling Seattle Hempfest’s cannabis-imbibing 100,000 person crowd told me, “…compared to the crowds coming out of Safeco or Quest field after a game, patrolling Hempfest is like patrolling a Girl Scout picnic.”

    Through my own recreational use, I discovered marijuana the all-natural non-toxic pain medicine with far less severe side-effects than the prescription alternatives. I believe cannabis should be legal for medical, recreational, food and fiber uses. Cannabis should be legal for American farmers to grow. If cannabis is legal for all, sick people will be able to get it. Ending this prohibition, America must also wean law enforcement from its 70-year-old marijuana arrest addiction. Cannabis use didn’t turn either Michael Phelps or Barack Obama into a couch potato or a loser. It’s time to legalize it. Tax and regulate marijuana…Now.

    George Rohrbacher is a retired cattle rancher, former WA state senator (R), former Commissioner of Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, currently serving on the NORML Board of Directors (For additional information please review the titles of two of the blogs I’ve written for the NORML blog: “Confessions of a Medical Marijuana Patient” and “Marijuana Prohibition and Fatherhood”)

    This essay was originally published in the Peninsula Daily News on May 4th.

    60 responses to “America Must Wean Law Enforcement From Their Marijuana Arrest Addiction”

    1. I totally agree. I would like to take it further and say that I believe it aids in peoples’ connections to the spirit, though for those who disbelieve in such I would be willing to pursue that as a recreational hobby. =P

    2. Nic says:

      re: Thursday, May 20th, 2010 on planet Earth

      I wonder, about The Children

    3. Gary White says:

      Keep on Keeping on George, America needs to know the truth ! Thanks.

    4. Nic says:

      Do you wonder about your place under the stars

    5. Z32TEUFELHUNDEN300ZX says:


    6. Onjray says:

      Why isn’t the government making money off of cannabis already? Why is the Tax Cannabis 2010 act instilling penalties as if marijuana is still the enemy to society?

      The government has been killing our earth with toxic waste from oil consumption, profiting off our lungs with tobacco taxation, and our livers and lives with alcohol.

      Live Free America!

    7. bhonze says:

      It kinda makes you ask yourself; Self, is the Government in the black market drug buisness? with all the scientific eveidence we have this is the only conclusion i can come up with that makes any sence to me. The government uses drug money to fund all the evil things they do and do not have to answer for. They cannot let this money go to the people or the CIA, FBI and local police departments would go under, this money is what funds all the guns, cars and other equipment used.

    8. wash-voter says:

      Reverse the unjust classification of this plant as a narcotic. I’m with you, do it now. Save us from wasting another trillion dolars on this 73 year old issue. We have more pressing issues to spend our law enforcement money on, like bank fraud, internet security threats, predatory criminals, violent repeat offenders, terrorist attacks…

      Stop trying to create more enemies. Like Canada, they are a peacefull country and now we are trying to make them hate us by forcing them to extradite Marc Emery, against their will, for something his own countries laws would not even bother him with. All because of these OUTDATED, UNJUST LAWS.

      The only logical conclusion that this continues is that corruption is out of control in the USA.

    9. steve says:

      Some very interesting enlightening facts!

    10. Don_M says:

      Thank you Mr. Rohrbacher for the wonderful enlightening article. With people like you helping to end what I see as a tragedy, we just might win! Much of what you wrote, I was already aware of. We just have to try to do more to make the people who want to continue with the current policies more aware of the truth. I’m a 54 year old ex-marine and what I’ve been doing is writing on lots of marijuana related blogs to let people know the reasons why I think it should be legalized – and the sooner the better! I’ve had it with bad laws ruining good people’s lives!