For almost 100 years in the United States, countless resources have been spent feeding—oops—I mean, “fighting” the “war on drugs”, specifically marijuana. Before that time, marijuana was largely acceptable and viewed as inherently valuable throughout the world. Today, medical science seems to support its use for certain purposes—not to mention whatever social uses for which some may advocate its use. However, since 1937, Congress has deemed that marijuana has absolutely no medical benefit and purpose and made anyone who possesses it subject to extreme criminal penalty. The history behind Congress’ enactment is quite suspect, and the “war on marijuana” deserves objective attention.
Despite Congress’ labeling marijuana as a dangerous drug without any medical use and with a high potential for abuse, fifteen states in the union (the last I looked) have declared otherwise. So, what insistent force keeps Congress from removing marijuana from CSA’s Schedule 1? Answered by historical comparison, Dwight D. Eisenhower’s reference in 1960 to the military-industrial complex should have included the marijuana-bureaucracy complex created by this “war on marijuana”. As a limited point of illustration, consider the mass raids which took place on March 14, 2011 throughout Montana by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies—spearheaded of course by federal agencies, with the state and local agencies acting as tagalongs.
On March 15, 2011, the United States Department of Justice (USDJ) released a written press statement regarding the numerous and simultaneous raids which took place in the great state of Montana—one of the several states which has declared by law that marijuana in fact has medical value and is lawful to use as such. In this statement, the USDJ listed the number of law enforcement agencies involved in the raids. The following is an excerpt from that public statement, indicating at least how many agencies where involved:
“[T]he Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Border Patrol, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These federal agencies were assisted by the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, and local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task forces, the Northwest Drug Task Force, the Kalispell Police Department, the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula Police Department, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, the Missoula High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Great Falls Police Department, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, the Central Montana Drug Task Force, the Billings Police Department, the Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force, the Dillon Police Department, the Beaverhead County Sheriff’s Office, the Park County Sheriff’s Office, the Bozeman Police Department, the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Helena Police Department, the Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office, and the Eastern Montana Drug Task Force – Miles City” (U.S. Department of Justice, Michael W. Cotter, United States Attorney, District of Montana, News Advisory, March 15, 2011).
Did you get all that?! It would take some people shorter time to read a chapter in the Bible than it would to read this list of agencies supposedly pursuing “criminal enterprises that have violated the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) related to marijuana.” Ibid.
So, how many government agents were involved within those departments who were paid in that pursuance? How many government staff members or private contractors were involved to assist those investigations? How many high-dollar pieces of equipment and surveillance were paid for and used in those investigations? How many clerks will be needed to keep the public record files? How many pieces of paper will be printed? How many prosecutors will be paid to prosecute and judges paid to adjudicate these man-made crimes? How many public defenders will be needed to defend them? How many jail personnel are employed to make sure these “criminals” reside in jail? How many food dispensaries are paid to deliver food to these same inmates? How many fees and fines are collected from the defendants and paid to the various governments as mandated by statute? How many drug rehabilitation programs are funded by tax dollars to “treat” these “drug addicts”? How many lobbyists are paid to use such statistics to show why more taxes are needed to sustain these criminal-pursuing operations? How many tax dollars were and will be used to pay for every person and everything involved, directly or indirectly, in this “war”? The numbers would undoubtedly rise into the billions. Can anyone say job security or economic stimulation?
Drawing from my own personal experience, I see the absurdity of the “war on marijuana”. During my time as a prosecutor at the Florida State Attorney’s Office from 2004 to 2006 where I handled literally thousands of criminal cases and tried nearly 60 jury trials, I was never impressed that marijuana was the cause of any criminal activity. Oh sure, possession of marijuana charges comprised a large number of my criminal cases; but the criminal act was merely the man-made law of possession of marijuana. In fact, most criminal activities were in large part caused by alcohol, where one who consumed too much alcohol became violent; beat his wife; neglected his children; drove drunk and hurt someone; caused a disturbance of the peace; or other similar evils. I saw those alcohol-related cases every day. Yet, I cannot say the same regarding marijuana. I would estimate that of the thousands of cases I handled, at least half (if not more) were a direct cause of alcohol consumption or addiction. Yet, alcohol is legal and marijuana is illegal.
In truth, about the only reason anyone can advocate for not treating alcohol in the same legal manner as marijuana is that “alcohol is too much ingrained into societal norms.” Try to convince an inquiring child on that logic: it will not stand. This logic of course is even more disturbing considering the harsh penalties carried with marijuana laws where lives are destroyed by government action. Perhaps too many politicians love their alcohol too much to make it a target of reprisal.
Still, there must be a target to perpetuate the bureaucracy and marijuana appears to be that target. Even more disturbing in the scenario is that the States cater to the federal government’s manipulation on the matter, making any and all activities relating to marijuana illegal. To suppress that “evil of marijuana”, varieties of government create pyramids of law enforcement agencies for the large purpose of arresting persons acting in relation to marijuana, and the ball of revenue generation rolls through the course of government and social programs. But how else will government power, size and control increase unless it has a “war” to wage?