Marijuana Arrest: Devastation Of A Life Well Lived

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director December 26, 2013

    If there is another human being who has publicly debated more in favor of cannabis law reform, or, spoken to more legal victims of America’s cannabis laws than me, I want to meet and thank them. From these hundreds of debates and thousands of personal encounters with my fellow cannabis consumers busted for ganja, one single phrase that I constantly hear from those who still support cannabis prohibition that instantly pushes my button is: No one gets busted for pot anymore in America…It’s practically legal.

    Thankfully, because of the non-stop work from a cast of thousands of citizen-activists, going back over forty years, the latter is somewhat true for about one-third of America’s population. However the former is a bald face lie that must be confronted every time it is uttered by the proponents of pot prohibition.

    Even in states where cannabis is supposed to be decriminalized, where states have passed laws making cannabis a ‘minor civil offense’, an encounter with law enforcement regarding one’s cannabis possession or use can have expensive, life-altering and devastating negative effects on a person’s life.

    Kudos to BuzzFeed for producing a very well done video profile of a beloved public school teacher in New York City named Alberto Willmore, who, save for this video, would be yet another faceless victim of New York City’s expensive and reckless enforcement of what should be a minor civil offense, like a parking ticket or citation for spitting on the sidewalk. Instead of simply issuing Mr. Willmore a civil fine for possessing a small amount of cannabis, New York City continues to disrespect state laws governing cannabis possession by arresting, detaining, prosecuting and forcing Mr. Willmore to lose his dream job as an art teacher for what law enforcement deem a ‘serious crime’, when the legislature does not–even more so when almost 60% of the US public support legalizing cannabis sales.

    NORML has been advocating for almost twenty years in New York City for the city to return to it’s historic cannabis possession arrest rate of under 1,000 per year, down dramatically from the now nearly 40,000 cannabis possession arrests annually in New York City, which exploded under mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg.

    Next time you hear a law enforcement representative, opinion maker or politician declare that ‘nobody gets busted for pot any more’, remind them of one of America’s nearly 700,000 annual cannabis arrests: Alberto Willmore

    With the recent release by incoming mayor Bill de Blasio’s family of a video from his daughter talking about her use of cannabis, and incoming police commissioner William Bratton’s long experience in effective policing, NORML hopes that 2014 will finally be the year that New York City ceases being the hotbed for cannabis arrests in America and relents on destroying the lives of it’s otherwise productive and appreciated citizens–like Alberto Willmore–who happen to choose to consume cannabis in their home.

    30 responses to “Marijuana Arrest: Devastation Of A Life Well Lived”

    1. Matt says:

      I can think of at least a million places where 678 million dollars could be better spent. It’s simple, regulate marijuana like alcohol through controlled stores and by being at least 21 years of age to purchase, develop a test to similar to a breathalyzer for intoxicated driving, and make it illegal to smoke in public as it is illegal to drink in public. It’s fucked that smoking and alcohol are legal in this country and marijuana is not.

    2. RUT says:

      THE WICKED WITCH IS NOT DEAD! Some politicians try to give the impression that they get it and are open to a change. In the mean time the arrest continue on and there is no real movement away from this cash cow our elected officials have decided to keep milking.
      . Soon it will be election time and we will see Mr. Politician at a rally doing the symbolic removing of the suit jacket and rolling up his sleeves like he just can not wait take charge. Lets start asking these people where they stand on the prohibition issue and get them on record before we elect them. I will not ever visit an american city like N.Y. as long as cops can stick their hands in my pockets because they do not like the way i look. Some shining city on a hill ! Some beacon of freedom… more like” America a penal colony!”

    3. Somedood says:

      There should be no fine or punishment for a responsible adult having marijuana. The statement that there should be some form of punishment pushes my buttons.

    4. Dave Evans says:

      This weird, unfounded hatred of marijuana has warped our whole country and our relationship with the rest of the world.

      What was the point of the Cold War, only for us to turn around and try to beat the Chinese and Russians at their game of treating their own people like shit? That the truth should get you locked up on trumped up charges…?

    5. Demonhype says:

      Yeah, it’s been my experience that prohibitionists live in their own fantasy world, devoid of logic or facts, devoted only to their dream of a “drug-free world” no matter the cost, even if the cost is to lose everything in life that matters and everything this country is supposed to stand for, and regardless of whether or not their methods even work or make the problem worse. It’s like they’re freaking cowards, just so incredibly scared of the drug boogey man that any security blanket that makes them “feel” safer must be clutched onto with a death grip, regardless of its actual efficacy, regardless of whether or not that security blanket actually offers security from the monsters or even does the opposite of what it is supposed to do in reality. Screw reality, facts, logic, and actual effectiveness of the solutions, we have frightened, cowardly, pants-wetting fee-fees to coddle, and anything that stops their pathetic squalling and makes them feel safe from the boogey man is good enough.

      Either that or their filthy rotten liars. Which, in the case of people who are invested in the drug war industries either by ownership, stock investment, or employment, is highly likely. Those really are the only two kinds of people who still support prohibition: stupid putrid cowards and personally invested liars/frauds.

      You know the only reason they’ve been taken so seriously for forty years is because they’ve effectively silenced the opposition through typical witch-hunt methods, and they’re terrified at this point because that’s wearing off and people are starting to see the facts, and no matter how loudly they scream their lies they can’t make them sound any more plausible or evidenced or logical or fact-based. On the other hand, thanks to their witch-hunt, our message sounds fresh and new and stands distinct from the background noise of the drug war talking points.

    6. J100409 says:

      I don’t understand why people are putting so much hope in deBlasio. He wants to end stop and frisk, but otherwise has not given any indication that he wishes to be better on cannabis than Bloomberg.

    7. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Yeah, and I’m probably the only American brave, or foolish enough to call Mr Bloomberg what he is a screwball. Mr Bloomberg sir, you’re a pure-d screwball.

    8. This is an excellent point. Marijuana prohibition has created a class of hate your guts law enforcement that would make chairman Mao proud. These are the misfits that get into law enforcement in order to punish people and manipulate the law to do it. They are the one’s that were picked on in high school or washed out of the military. And now they want pay back. The only problem is they cant find enough child molester so they focus on what they consider is the next best thing. “Pot Smokers” The LITTLE RED BOOK of Narcissistic law enforcement shows that this is how they get promoted. Now the charges go to the prosecutors office and he can justify his existence through the federal level. All the while this is greasing the wheels of hatred.

    9. phrtao says:

      How can some one support prohibition and at the same time claim it is not enforced against users ? (that is not prohibition – it is ban on controlled manufacture) I would think this strategy just gives control of supply to criminals but does not reduce the availability (only the quality suffers and the price goes up)
      I have often thought that if prohibition was to work then the harshest penalties should be for users – not those who make and distribute. If the market was too scared to buy then prices would fall and the criminal profits would disappear. Only one problem with this approach though – there are many more users than law enforcers or prison places. Which ever way you look at it prohibition does not work, can not work and is not working !

    10. Young people need to speak out and demand a change since they are most at risk to get arrested and ruin their chances for employment. Noone should be arrested for marijuana. It is an example of modern government departing from the constitution. Government should focus on Murders, shooters and potential violence.