Social Question

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Why is marijuana such a big deal with law enforcement?

Asked by Tenpinmaster (2920points) January 31st, 2010

Ok, now I don’t care much for the stuff but I don’t understand why we waste tax payer money to arrest people for using and distribution of marijuana. I personally think alcohol consumption is much more dangerous then smoking a joint. Alcohol makes some people very violent whereas weed just makes you want to raid the nearest vending machine. I don’t understand why you can get thrown in jail for selling a plant that you can technically grow in a well lit closet. Perhaps some of you can clear this for me why our society wants to utilize precious resources for curbing something that I don’t feel is really a big deal.

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57 Answers

FlutherMe's avatar

It employs people and makes the state money. How many lawyers, judges, police, probation officers, corrections officers, rehab centers, and on and on would be out of a job if it was legal.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

It depends on the attitude of the community. In many places, the attitude towards private use is “leave them alone”. Elected officials get the message and it is conveyed to police and prosecutors. The Obama administration’s attitude, at least towards medical use, is healthy, but the real solution is to get cannibis off of the same classification as hard drugs. Have the feds get out of it and leave it up to the states. Cannibis was a non-issue before the late 1920s.

laureth's avatar

Are you asking why the cops are concerned over busting people for possessing an illegal drug (like the question seems to ask), or why people made pot (but not alcohol) illegal, as it states in the details?

As for the first part, the cops are doing their job. I’m also awaiting @john65pennington’s answer on this one.

As for the second, well, there are many other questions on Fluther where this has been dealt with.

You can go to jail for lots of things that you can do in a closet, though. Srsly.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

As others have said, it’s definitely political. Usually on the part of the district attorneys and prosecutors, though, not the cops. For instance, California has legalized medical marijuana, yet prosecutors have latitude to go after medical marijuana clinics, depending on their interpretation of the law. Sure, the prosecutors may lose in court, but it’s still a loss of time and money to the other party.

ETpro's avatar

Marijuana was originally criminalized in America as a way to enforce back-door bigotry. It was virtually unknown in white, genteel society but widely used in the Mexican American immigrant population. Criminalizing its use was similar to the Jim Crow laws of the Old South, laws sold as attempts to preserve social order but really nothing more than thinly veiled efforts to enforce class and racial distinctions.

Drug laws still largely serve that purpose, but now on a much wider scale, decimating American inner cities and providing a new, burgeoning for-profit industry, the private prison system, with millions of “products” to process while keeping the ‘riffraff’ off our streets and away from white, genteel people.

I am not saying that hard drugs are a good thing or that they do not pose any threat to civilized, orderly society. My point is that the current approach to dealing with them is biased, sweeping up those who are already the most disadvantaged among us and largely leaving other users untouched. The war on drugs is a failure. It is doing more harm than good. We should find better ways to discourage abuse of dangerous drugs. We should legalize and tax pot. The effort to suppress it has been as big and predictable a failure as was prohibition.

JLeslie's avatar

It really depends where you live. When I attended school at Michigan State University in the late 80’s from what I understand the fine was $5 if you got caught, if they bothered to give you a fine.

birdland33's avatar

Marijuana was actually criminalized for two (or three) other less bigoted reasons.

William Randolph Hearst did not want the competition of hemp impeding on his paper empire, DuPont did not want the competition impeding its burgeoning vinyl/nylon empire, and distilleries did not want the cheaper mind-altering marijuana to get in the way of alochol sales, especially in the early post-Prohibition years.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

Well i guess my main concern is the criminal part of smoking and/or distribution of a plant. Now do thr states control what is illegal in terms of drug use or is it a federal crime to use or distribute

tinyfaery's avatar

Not here, thank gawd.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because marijuana prohibition is still in effect.

mass_pike4's avatar

@ETpro: Amen. Could not agree with you more

DrMC's avatar

Because they want to confiscate your weed and smoke it.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@DrMC LOL! you know what, i was thinking the same thing. So do police officers really hang out at donut shops? I just never understood how that stereotype came into light. (sorry, off topic). So are there other countries which have even more strict laws about marijuana then ours?

deni's avatar

there is no logical reason. there are such more important things to worry about. it is stupid.

i wrote a paper on this last year and my professor told me that her brother in law is a police officer and when they would confiscate weed from people they would keep it and smoke it. yay law enforcement!!!! i have no problem with weed but if youre gonna arrest someone and fuck up their entire life and possibilities for jobs and such then dont be such a hypocrite.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

@deni agreed! that is very messed up. I think police corruption is one of the sickest things because its a perversion in law enforcement and reinforces peoples mistrust for the profession.

FlutherMe's avatar


Shit I’de take a corrupt cop any day over one of those lame ass “by the book” ones. Atleast the corrupt ones are cooler and more apt to let you go (they are criminals themselves). They work off respect, the by the book ones well work off the book. I’de rather have the cop just take my weed and smoke it himself over book me. I’de take that tax any day,

I just can not stand when a cop tries to be all professional as he is fucking your life up (i.e. “Please watch your head, sir” as he is putting you into the car).

Zuma's avatar

Actually, when you talk to cops they couldn’t care less if people smoke weed. And some of them ignore it when they can do so without it becoming an issue.

But, in reality, the whole war on drugs is not about saving people from the (overblown)horrors of drugs. If it were, there would be more emphasis on prevention and treatment, the way we approach nicotine in tobacco (which is actually the most deadly drug around). The law enforcement effort wouldn’t be focused on users and user-dealers, the way it is now. It would be focused on the money launderers and the government itself promoting drugs and drug trafficking through its covert ops. There is quite a large literature on how the CIA facilitated the importation of heroin during the Vietnam war, and introduced crack cocaine into America’s inner-cities to raise money in order raise money for Reagan’s illegal war in El Salvador.

The whole war on drugs is, when you get right down to it, a kind of ethnic cleansing program with a $50 billion budget.

All, absolutely all, of the so-called harmful effects of drugs are indirectly caused by drug prohibition. The idea that you can force people to stop taking drugs by persecuting them and throwing them in prison has never worked, and cannot work. The only reason people take drugs is because they don’t have anything better to do, and prison is not a better thing to do, quite the reverse. It actually increases the person’s desire to do drugs.

DrMC's avatar

I think the police have to enforce certain laws they don’t agree with, but mostly are motivated to protect the public good.

There’s a dark side to narcotics – totally different from marijuana.

You can judge a tree by its fruits. Marijuana – weight gain, sloth, paranoia, possible mental problems. Basically a gateway drug.

Narcotics—prostitution and theft to support, followed often by death. A very different level of threat. Dealers of narcs often times would sell their sisters off. Police are highly motivated to nail scumbags for the public good. (based on various conversations I’ve had)

ETpro's avatar

@DrMC The gateway drug hooey has been well debunked. If you factor out the factn that the person was willing to defy one drug law and thus may defy others, it is not true.

The other things you list for marijuana are not proven facts. The best evidence says that alcohol as a FAR more dangerous and debilitating drug than THC, and far more addictive.

Your list of evils for other drugs all pertain to the fact we so heavily criminalize them. It’s rather like saying alcohol causes organized crime because the Mafia came into its heyday during Prohibition. Alcohol didn’t cause the explosion of organized crime. Alcohol had been around for thousands of years. Prohibition caused organized crime to explode.

DrMC's avatar

@ETpro I really don’t worry much about marijuana, I’m giving the other side play – to keep it balanced. It would be nice if debunked. Definately Alcohol is a bad bad pain in the ass.

Narcotics are not nice drugs. Anything that makes a heterosexual male engage in homosexual prostitution to support a habit can’t be good.

How many people do you know that died in your town from marijuana?

Now, how many celebrities, singers, friends, relatives, townsfolk do you know that are dead from heroine?

Herione kills. I’ve had my share of pumping dead chest to bring them back from the dead.

See my avatar to the left. That’s the last thing an addict sees.

Don’t try to support heroine. I’d gladly smoke a joint while machine gunning down a heroine dealer.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@DrMC – Gateway drug? Please. I know far too many deeply respected and productive members of the community that have smoked marijuana for decades. It’s not the herb, it’s the addictive personalities that end up giving it a bad name. Those types will generally move on to more powerful substances anyway. I think most city governments and the police departments are ecstatic about all the massive income being generated by property seizures. At the very least, we’d certainly require fewer policemen if it were made legal.

Zuma's avatar

@DrMC Almost nobody died from heroin overdose before it was criminalized. It was used widely in patent medicine for everything from pain management, to diarrhea, to menstrual cramps. It was only after it was criminalized that people moved from low-level chronic use to the sorts of binging behavior that makes any drug problematic.

This was exactly parallel to what happened to alcohol during Prohibition. Before prohibition, people drank wine and beer with their meals openly, with social supports to help regulate their usage and mitigate their effects. When alcohol was criminalized, people switched to more concentrated forms of alcohol, like bathtub gin. Then they drank in speak-easies (or alone) and they drank to get drunk. Alcoholism rates soared. The same is true of every drug that gets criminalized.

Before you go machine-gunning down anybody, read a couple of books on the history of drug Prohibition in America. And at least check out the list cited in my comment above.

DrMC's avatar

@Rufus_T_Firefly I was just trying to acknowledge the POV of the “other side” – I dont’ really think marijuana is a threat.

Heroine prohibition? – I don’t care how you regulate it, just get the bastards to stop pumping us for narcs and showing up dead! Let’s make it over the counter so they can die en masse and get it over with.

You wouldn’t defend it if you’d seen what I see. That’s like saying machine guns kill people because their use is restricted.

Heroine is much more dangerous than an AK-47. Have you ever seen anyone asked to be shot by a machine gun? Paid for the bullet? – engaged in prostitution and theft to get it?

Still they pile up dead and you want to defend it!?

Say hello to my avatar – he’ll be seeing you soon apparently.

Zuma's avatar

@DrMC “Let’s make it over the counter so they can die en masse and get it over with.”

Gee, you’re all heart, aren’t you. It’s fairly clear from remarks like that (and the one above about machine-gunning people) that you really don’t expect anyone to take you seriously.

In Britain it used to be possible to get heroin from a clinic if you were a registered addict. About 5% of heroin addicts per year quit for good under this regime, and almost nobody dies (there being no way to prevent people from using this as a method of suicide). The history of drugs and addiction shows that there is nothing intrinsically dangerous about heroin (and, by the way, it is spelled heroin), or any other drug.

One of the reasons people “pile up dead,” as you put it, is because there is no way to tell the purity of illegal drugs, so people sometimes take much more than they expect. This is a consequence of the drugs being illegal, and not of the drug itself.

DrMC's avatar

I think legal distribution, is a better alternative than the current system.

If you are wondering where my milk of human kindness has been sapped to, use your head and re-read the above.

The problem is a serious nuisance. I often joke about making communes for addicts where they work to produce poppies, thereby cutting off finance to Al Qaida. The addicts would run treadmills to produce electricity while being infused with low doses of narcotics.

Dose, and effect would be monitered to prevent overdose.

They would be happy, buff, and would be able to follow their “no intention to stop” lifestyle. The commune would keep them out of areas where theft, and other problems would surmmount.

If they want to leave, they just have to get clean.

A better use of the prison model if you ask me – but most wouldn’t agree.

As far as the over the counter Idea goes, you ought to try to be manipulated by one of these. People complaining that they can’t sleep by 10 AM because they can’t get their “milk” might just get exactly what they are asking for.

Did free access really help michael?

Zuma's avatar

@DrMC Actually, I don’t see anything in your comments above that would justify machine-gunning people, letting people die en masse, or setting up concentration camps for people addicted to opiates. You don’t even disagree with legal distribution; yet, for some reason you can’t simply advocate that; you have to add a dehumanizing little twist—turning it into a humiliating gulag replete with treadmills and humiliating conditions.

For all your talk about “bodies piling up” very, very few of them are actually due to simple heroin overdoses. Rather, most heroin deaths are due to the impurities, undisclosed additives, and multiple drug interactions—things that are made worse by forcing drugs onto the black market. In fact, heroin overdose deaths are so infrequent that the CDC’s MMWR does not report them as a separate category in its annual summaries of all causes of death. In contrast, however, tobacco accounts for about 435,000 premature deaths per year. Where’s your outrage there?

By the way, I never advocated over the counter access to heroin. Considering the perceived dangers associated with heroin, it should only be available by prescription, like the rest of the opiates.

Once again, the only reason there is any problem at all with heroin is because it is illegal. The intrinsic cost of heroin is very cheap (poppies grow wild practically anywhere) and you can keep an addict as high as he or she wants to be for anywhere from $1.25 to $15 per day. Once you make it illegal, black market pricing factors the considerable risk into the price, and it goes way up. It’s only then you get problems with theft and prostitution.

You only get addicts trying to manipulate their doctors or otherwise gaming the system when they don’t trust the system. As long as they don’t have to worry about running out, they are relatively easy to manage (after all we currently manage them well enough with methadone). And, when they don’t have to worry about getting their drug, or the money to buy drugs, or getting caught and sent to prison, they are much more likely to work through whatever issues they have and quit—which 5% of them do on their own for good.

As for Michael, he had his issues. He was an adult and he made his own choices. Had heroin been available to him, he might not have overdosed on a cocktail of propofol, Ativan and Versed. Certainly the prohibition against heroin didn’t help or hurt him one way or another. Sending him to prison or hooking him up on a treadmill on some opium farm somewhere wouldn’t have helped him either. It would have just been cruel.

It would seem that we don’t really disagree on the actual solution, but on whether it is delivered in a dignified and humane manner.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@DrMC – I don’t believe I said anything about heroin, either, but just to set the record straight, I believe that education and awareness programs might save more money and serve a better purpose than incarcerating people because they choose to smoke a little weed instead of ruining their liver and other organs with alcohol. Imposing unrealistic and often devastating civil penalties on those who smoke weed obviously hasn’t worked in seventy-plus years since it was banned, so why would it start now? As for the commune idea, I think it would just be pissing into the proverbial fan. You’d really put someone to work growing opium poppies and producing heroin, day in and day out, then expect them to get clean if they decide that they want to leave? What kind of drugs are you growing?

john65pennington's avatar

First, marijuana is illegal to own, grow or possess. second, i see there are a lot of pros and con answers here, concerning marijuana. looking at the value of each answer, it appears most people are comparing alcohol to marijuana and its effect on the human body. its true that both of these drugs harm the human body. alcohol destroys the liver and marijuana destroys front lobe brain cells. i see the difference as this: alcohol may destroy a humans liver, but liver damage does not effect a persons ability to operate a motor vehicle(at least not to my knowledge), but marijuana destroys brain cells and this could effect a persons ability to drive or think rationally. i assume this is why marijuana is illegal…..for the safety of non-smokers of marijuana on the road and in their homes. some people will argue this point with me, but i believe smoking marijuana is just the first step, on the ladder, to more addictive drugs like, heroin and cocaine. i make this statement based on what drug addicts have stated to me. that, they started their drug addiction by first smoking marijuana and this lead them to more potent illegal drugs. i do not have proof of this, only what drug addicts have told me, on their way to rehabilitation. i have no use for marijuana for two reasons: its illegal and its addictive. some people will not agree with my answer and i expect this. my answer is strictly based on my past experiences with drug addicts that are addicted to marijuana and other illegal drugs.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@john65pennington – I almost hesitate to bring this up, but that is a typical law enforcement response. As to what drug addicts have told you… you wouldn’t take their word on anything else, so why would you start there? The addictive personality has more to do with drug progression and consumption than the drug itself. As to the reasons pot is illegal, the industrialists (William Randolph Hearst, DuPont, big-oil, etc…) pushed that false-flag agenda simply to protect their cash cow, not because any of the evidence they presented was true. If you want to understand the issue from an objective point of view, I would suggest visiting the LEAP website for some excellent testimony from your own peer group.

Zuma's avatar

@john65pennington Rufus is exactly correct. Here is an except from a post I wrote for another forum:

There was a time in this country when heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines were not only legal, but they were sold over the counter in the form of patent remedies. Doses were low, usage was moderate, addictions were mild, and when the FDA started requiring manufacturers to list their ingredients on the label, people were able to easily quit.

There was no “drug problem” back then because there was no illegality and hence no stigma in going to your personal physician and getting whatever it was you needed. Because drugs were legal, they were cheap, and so people could afford to live comfortably with their addictions. And they lived full, productive lives—just as people do today with their addictions to tobacco, and caffeine.

The laws against drugs in this country were never really about the harmful effects of the drug themselves. They were mainly about targeting and politically isolating racial groups who were being scapegoated for their alleged “immorality.”

For example, the nation’s first drug laws were the opium laws enacted in San Francisco as a way extracting graft and corruption from San Francisco’s already politically marginalized Chinese population. The Chinese had already been pushed out of the gold fields by highly punitive “foreign miners” taxes; they were legally barred from testifying in court against white men, followed by more organized violence and eventually laws prohibiting them from entering the country in the first place.

William Randolph Hearst helped circulate lurid stories about how white women being lured into Chinese opium dens, addicted to drugs and held as virtual sex slaves. The stories were largely untrue, but nonetheless stoked the flames of racism that helped many a state and local politician get elected. Later, the campaign was taken national, riding the crest of a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment, and no small amount of legislative trickery.

Hearst used marijuana to campaign against Mexicans, against he had a particular animosity and a large financial grudge. Hearst had purchased 800,000 of Sonoran timberland for pennies on the dollar, and Pancho Villa, simply took it back. Hearst was furious. So, he began to demonize marijuana as the “active ingredient” in Mexicans that made them alternately “lazy,” “violent” and “thieving.” “La Cucaracha” (the famous roach that so many marijuana smokers know and love so well), was based on a popular song of the Mexican army. But since Anglo’s were largely ignorant of the pacifying nature of the drug, Hearst used lurid stories about marijuana to demonize Mexicans and the Mexican Army as “bloodthirsty” and “undisciplined.”

Hearst had another reason: As owner of nearly all the timber in California, Hearst had a virtual monopoly on newsprint, which gave him a significant edge over his other newspaper rivals. When a USDA report came out showing that hemp fiber could be produced for one-fourth the cost of wood pulp on the same land, this threatened to cut into their highly profitable monopoly. So, Hearst teamed up with Pierre Du Pont, whose chemical company owned the process of making newsprint from wood pulp, Andrew Mellon, Du Pont’s banker, and Harry Anslinger, Mellon’s soon to become famous nephew-in-law, to bamboozle Congress into outlawing hemp and thereby preserving Hearst’s and DuPont’s monopoly advantage over the control of newsprint.

But first, Anslinger and Hearst had to sell the American public on the dangers of hemp, which they did by appealing directly to the racism of the Anglo population, who had no personal knowledge with which to temper the deliberate lies they were being told by Anslinger, who was now Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics:

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

“Marijuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”

“Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.”

If you didn’t you knew any better you would think that the Drug War was actually some sort of bizarre sociological experiment to see how many times you can tell people the American people same basic racist lie and still get away with it. For example, when the crack epidemic hit the streets in the mid 1980s (in no small part due to Ollie North running cocaine out of the basement of the Reagan White House to finance Reagan’s illegal war against the Sandinistas), the crack epidemic was being hyped in in no uncertain racist terms.

But this time, however, it was not the hot-tempered Latin, nor the muscular, over-endowed, sexually disinhibited black men who were the problem. This time it appeared to be a whole generation of demon spawn—Crack Babies, who had not even yet even left their cribs but had somehow managed to plunge the nation into a moral panic and financial ruin. Scientific experts were predicting that crack babies would form a whole biological underclass of sub-humans, who would never know right from wrong from the beginning, who would never hold meaningful, gainful employment, who would never be capable of having a meaningful conversations, or an awareness of God because the part of their brains that makes them distinctly human and capable of discussion or moral reflection would have been wiped out by drugs.

Crack babies were declared neurologically compromised, morally inferior, predisposed to crime, degenerate, and a permanent burden on society—rendered so by a drug that was believed to be so powerfully addictive that just one dose was capable of destroying a mother’s love and turning her maternal instinct against all decency; rendering her into a promiscuous, self-indulgent, irresponsible monster—a crack ho—who would sell herself and her child for for just another dose.

Unfortunately, despite the lurid stories about crack addicted mothers, it turns out that there is simply no such thing as a “crack baby.” Of course, the premature infants held up, shivering and irritable under the glare of the media spotlight are real enough, kept alive at staggering cost by tubes and respirators. But these turned out to be the victims of a much older and well known malady—poverty and medical neglect. The country had abandoned the inner city years before, and this was the result.

From “Reefer Madness” to apocryphal stories about crack babies the history of American drug policy has been driven by propaganda and deceit. And the notion that marijuana is a “gateway” drug is one of many these discredited tropes.

deni's avatar

marijuana is only a gateway drug in the sense that its EXTREMELY rare for someone to try heroin or cocaine without smoking weed first. and that makes sense. but it doesnt mean that that person tried coke or heroin BECAUSE of the weed. thats not the case. its just like anything else. you wouldn’t try making a 5 course meal until you knew how to turn on the stove. you wouldn’t buy a motorcycle without even knowing how to get on a regular bicycle.

Zuma's avatar

@deni By that (post hoc) logic, mother’s milk is a gateway drug. Most people try alcohol before they try weed, that doesn’t make it a gateway drug for weed or heroin. Why? because most of the people who try alcohol and weed don’t “go on” to heroin.

deni's avatar

@Zuma yeah…right…most of the people who smoke weed dont go on to use harder drugs. but few people who do harder drugs didnt use weed first. i’m saying that doesn’t make it a gateway drug, its just logical sense that in most cases people start out with a softer drug before moving on to a more serious one.

ETpro's avatar

@john65pennington There is no conclusive evidence that marijuana use kills brain cells. This is psuedo-science used by those who wish to demonize it. Here’s a very definitive study from Harvard which lists the real health risks and a discussion of the Myths around MJ from

One of the brightest people I know is a self-made millionaire who is 65 years old now and has smoked the stuff since he was a kid. He’s now worth $35 million. I promise you, if I thought it would do for my brain what it did for his, I’d be smoking a joint a day at least.

I don’t think deliberately inhaling smoke into our lungs is a good idea regardless of what the smoke comes from. But pot is quite clearly less damaging to brains and bodies in long term use than alcohol or tobacco. Long use of alcohol can affect brain activity. Being high on alcohol is a leading cause of domestic violence and steet violence.

I say again, the truth is pot got criminalized as a Jim Crow move, and it is still so today. Many of its stanuchest supporters really know that, and just come up with an endless list of phony reasons why it is imperative what we lock up the users because it keeps their ethnic cleansing program from looking like what it really is.

john65pennington's avatar

I told you guys that you would not like my answer.

DrMC's avatar

@ETpro here’s a review, that specifically references adverse effects of marijuana, and my opinion it’s on par with alcohol – in-terms of intoxication while working and driving being a nuisance, and potentially a threat. Alcohol should be regulated more, and marijuana perhaps less. It’s very important to point out that not all weed smokers are created equal – in particular – it is speculated that the association with mental illness is either by association or facilitation. No offense but the listed “Harvard medical study” looks to me like a Harvard web page. Did you have a more specific reference in mind?

Because of the current state of marijuana’s legality we have less safety data than desirable for the question at hand, but I wouldn’t trust it cause someone said it’s a good idea to trust it.

@john65pennington thanks for showing up for the “other side” – In my experience it doesn’t start pissing you off till you have to actually deal with the dead carcasses, and the individuals in question.

The comparison to prohibition is valid, but I don’t think you will ever see the drug used by Michael Jackson prescribed for use outside an operating room. Likewise, only a fool would prescribe heroine for recreational use, with its extremely high tendency to produce death. Tight regulation of highly toxic drugs just makes sense.

My avatar awaits those that use herione.

DrMC's avatar

@ETpro this paper is consistent with my personal suspicions.

This is not demonization. Cannibis is a beautiful plant, with many uses.

Mentally ill people should think twice.

Try to restrict your evidence, to debatable issues in – otherwise you’re pissing in a bucket of heresay.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@john65pennington – For me, It’s not that I dislike your answer, nor do I blame you for it, it’s just that a policeman’s perspective is that of the perpetual antagonist and such a perspective is born of circumstantial subjectivity rather than pure objectivity. That’s probably the number one reason I decided not to become a police officer.

ETpro's avatar

@DrMC I read the paper. It’s far from a conclusive proof that the criminalization of marijuana is justified from a public safety standpoint. If anything, it could be used to argue just the opposite. It is erring on the side of extreme caution because it is a study looking at the use of the herb as a medicine, and the first rule of medicine is “Do no harm.” Nonetheless, it states:

“There has been concern about an association between cannabis use and psychosis, with evidence suggesting that cannabis may precipitate psychotic symptoms or disorders in people vulnerable to such symptoms. However, this evidence also comes from studies involving recreational users. There are currently no data on the extent of risk for psychotic symptoms among medical users, but those who are vulnerable to psychosis because of personal or family history would be ill-advised to use cannabis heavily for any reason.”

Mind you, that is looking at advising patients from a medical perspective. Doctors would have a great deal of agonizing to do before advising ANY patient to drink alcohol regularly over a long period of time, or to smoke tobacco. But neither of these activities are considered felonies.

@john65pennington If you are a police officer and have to wade through the squalor and misery that heroin and crack and crystal meth produce within the framework of our current harsh drug laws, I can well imagine your disdain for all drugs. However, in countries that have provided safe, unadulterated heroin to addicts overdoses are almost unheard of and most addicts eventually decide on their own to dry themselves out.

Our prohibition approach to drugs is working no better than it did with alcohol. We should warn people of the dangers. Teach the dangers early on in school, then take the Libertarian approach. Criminalize DWI and other activities that bring any harm from drugs to others who didn’t chose to inflict the harm on themselves.

laureth's avatar

Folks, the question is, “Why is marijuana such a big deal with law enforcement?” @john65pennington, who is in law enforcement, told why it was a big deal to people in law enforcement. [shrug]

FlutherMe's avatar


Are you really fucking kidding me. This is why I hate cops, you chose to remain ignorant and drink the states cool aid.

“Kills frontal lobe brain cells” – Marijuana never kills any cells. Marijuana is safer than alcohol in the fact that no actual tissue damage occurs (except for obviously exposure to smoke on the lungs). Marijuana has attributed to ZERO deaths

“Impairs peoples ability to operate a motor vehicle” – Are you really fucking kidding? Have you ever been high or are you just eating the propaganda. I smoke (almost) daily and I feel 500 times safer driving a car on that stuff. Now I don’t condone the practice, but when on Marijuana you still have control, you may be tired and dosing off, but visual perception is not altered. I don’t know exactly why, but it is WAYYY easier to control a car high as hell than drunk. Ask ANY smoker, or do it yourself. It’s for knowledge… we won’t tell :). Actually I’m going to smoke right now and drive to class….. Creative writing, and I need to be able to “think outside the box”

“Gateway drug” – Correlation does not mean causation. Most inner city youth start with smoking marijuana, yes. It is not the marijuana that causes them to do harder drugs. Drugs are ingrained in the street culture. If marijuana never existed they’d probably just go straight to the crack pipe or hit the $5 bottle of wine. No study has proved the “gateway drug” theory yet.

I work, I go to college which I maintain As and Bs in, and yes I smoke. Does it bother you that when you write me up for MJ, you are ruining my future chances of getting a productive job? No, I didn’t ruin my chances (my actions are harmless), YOU did. If I was stuck in the inner-city you’d just be helping me to stay there and become a real criminal as opposed to get out and make something of myself.

Go catch a real criminal, like the people who stole my car…... Ohh ya I forgot though, it’s hard to meet quota when you are capturing the real bad guys, it’s just too hard.

tinyfaery's avatar

Old saying:

Drunk drivers run red lights. Stoned drivers stop a green ones.

Just sharing.

deni's avatar

@tinyfaery hahahhahahah. or stoned drivers stop at stop signs and wait for them to turn green.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@deni – I’m sensing that maybe this is something that has happened to you in the past? No? Did it ever get any greener? LOL

deni's avatar

@Rufus_T_Firefly hahahahahah well not quite but at SOME point after five minutes of sitting there, something somehow clicks in your brain and you go “oh…this is a stop SIGN” lolololol

Just_Justine's avatar

I would personally ask myself why I would need a mood altering substance everyday as opposed to functioning in my usual state? Obviously I am ‘self medicating”. So if I was a person who smoked everyday I would consider if I suffer anxiety for example. Then perhaps need to deal with it?
My son smokes weed I think everyday. He is moody, apathetic, has no drive as well as other issues. Did the weed cause it? I do believe some of it. Either way he would rely on substances whether booze, drugs or prescription drugs.

I think with weed, some people tend to use it more in the sense that it does not smell and it is not detectable like drinking booze. Which makes it a bit more dangerous in that no one knows what the person is doing to survive each day. Whereas a drinker would be caught out quickly and brought to explanation.

Grass was the first step off point to my own sons addictions which increased to eventually crack. But of course we cant blame any drug or substance we can only deal with the personality that needs to use drugs to function.

Zuma's avatar

@Just_Justine My parents would have Martinis every day after they came home from work, and then have wine with dinner. They certainly didn’t need to use alcohol to function, but they seemed to get quite a bit of enjoyment out of doing so. They also had their personality quirks—which, of course, got worse when they drank—but nobody would have blamed the alcohol for any of this.

Somehow I find it difficult to believe that pot was in any way responsible for your son’s crack addiction. However, from a mother’s point of view, I can understand how it’s easier to blame your son’s problems on pot rather than the usual social or psychological influences. Had it been legal, you probably wouldn’t have thought pot to be any more of a contributing factor than, say, cigarettes; which, unlike pot, are highly addictive and play havoc with a person’s brain chemistry.

Just because somebody uses a drug—whether it is nicotine, alcohol, marijuana or crack—doesn’t mean that they have any particular kind of personality or psychological “need” to take that drug. Indeed, it is only in the advanced stages of addiction that drugs become “necessary” to maintain a level of functioning. They never become necessary in order to survive.

As you note, pot does not usually cause any observable impairment, so it strikes me as a stretch to call it “dangerous.” The trouble with bandying words like “dangerous” around, especially a mother talking about her son, is that somebody is going to mistake your conjecture for a fact and use it to make (or keep) pot illegal. I can assure you that whatever problems your son faces because of his drug use, they are nothing compared to being thrown in prison.

Just_Justine's avatar

@zuma I quite clearly said, that I understand one has to deal with the personality not the drug. I also quite clearly said that any substance used everyday is questionable. In terms of a person dealing with their stuff. I don’t blame pot? where did I blame pot? I think perhaps read my post before responding to me. I am not ignorant.

Zuma's avatar

@Just_Justine “I don’t blame pot? where did I blame pot?”

“He is moody, apathetic, has no drive as well as other issues. Did the weed cause it? I do believe some of it.”

laureth's avatar

@Just_Justine re “I think with weed, some people tend to use it more in the sense that it does not smell and it is not detectable like drinking booze.”

Pot smells, I assure you. It has a very distinct smell.

Just_Justine's avatar

@zuma it is well documented that pot causes those symptoms if used in the long term. However my sentence said “did weed cause it?” Even though I know it did. I left it open to debate. It can also cause psychosis if used long term. All that aside, even though you did not read my post properly I still believe any substance used daily as I said earlier to me shows a personality issue. @laureth I know it smells however it does not smell hours after use, not to my nose. I should never have answered this question, I do not like drugs, booze or any mood altering substances. I realize that does not warrent them to become illegal. However that is my opinion and I think opinions were asked for?

Zuma's avatar

@Zuma I’m sorry to have given you such a hard time over such a minor point.

As a point of information, however, there is no evidence of pot causing psychosis short or long-term.

As for daily drug use being indicative of a “personality issue,” I think it is more likely the other way around. After all, it is the daily non-drug-users who build and run our prisons and who continually agitate to enlarge the system and make it more punitive. If you want to meet people with personality issues, go check out a few prison guards.

Kade13's avatar

The main reason its such a big deal and their refusal to declassify marijuana is due to the lack of testability of those under its influence.

Those driving under the influence of alcohol can be easily tested via a simple breathalyser test which shows the level of blood alcohol level and thus whether the person has consumed more the the legal allowance.

There aren’t any simple ways to determine at what level a persons judgement becomes impaired with marijuana and no tests that can show immediately and with accuracy the presence of marijuana in the system.

The whole idea of it being a financial and a way to keep more people in employ is ridiculous, if anything the declassification, monitoring and taxation of marijuana would employ more people in as there would be a need for monitoring and distribution personnel but would cost less and they would be able to claim tax on what is already a multibillion dollar industry. This tax would be more than capable for paying the wages of the extra personnel employed and give more to the country which it could then use for other purposes. This would also reduce the level of danger to its takers and the drug would be quality controlled.

This would no doubt free up federal employees to deal with things that most people consider to be of higher importance then the sales and consumption of a plant.

Zaku's avatar

@Kade13 Your economic arguments make great sense. Unfortunately, making great sense is not the main reason things get chosen in many businesses and governments.

As for “testability”, that might be an excuse, but neither does it make great sense. If there is a concern for people being incompetent under the influence of some substance, tests can be made to measure whether or not the person is competent to do something (operate vehicle, machinery, do certain work, ...) rather than picking individual causes and testing for those. Which brings us back to: making sense isn’t how lots of laws and business practices get chosen…

… what are those people on? ;-)

mollysmithee's avatar

The crimes for marijuana possession are fairly innocuous. It is only a misdemeanor. In some states they don’t even enforce marijuana laws. This is typical of a more severe state as far as marijuana prosecution goes:
California turns a blind eye for the most part.

Sinqer's avatar

I stayed stoned for almost exactly one year, and for as much of that year as I could. I never once paid for the stuff (MJ by the way). And when me and the friend that bought it went separate ways, I quit without any withdraw symptoms… never even missed the stuff. So to addiction, as a former heavy smoker, I say ‘BS’, not an ounce.

As to why the police bother, I think the police officer likely answered the question.

I would guess, also being a cigarette smoker, that the ill effects of marijuana are much like those of cigarettes in the fact that they work on a TWA (time weighted average). Your body has a tolerance level to every substance in existence, yes water will kill you, and so will a breath of over 25% oxygen (can double check me on the exact percentage). Obviously the body can only mitigate so much, so fast. Lead poisoning, for example, requires very little of the substance; cigarette smokers can smoke and die at 85 years old from emphysema, but if they hadn’t died of emphysema, it will be something else as they approach the last quarter century of their life. And incidentally, less than 10% of smokers die of smoking related cancer (look it up on a medical site, not a propaganda site like the government’s).

I agree with making all drugs free, and requiring the same thing we require for food: a list of ingredients. Tax the snot out of it like they do cigarettes, and let those that choose of their own free will to embark on such a life to reap the mind altering rewards and suffer the death just like me and everyone else for the decisions we make in our lives.

But I also agree with the practical regulations concerning operation of power equipment while under the influence… if they want to die from it, let them, but not take others with them.

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