While reports of law enforcement pulling underhanded stunts to bust people for weed seem no less common today than they were a decade ago, the latest federal data indicates that police at the local and state level consider marijuana to be the least concerning of illicit substances. However, consistent with the obvious disconnect that exists at the federal level, the DEA still sees pot as its arch nemesis.
According to the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, the majority of police departments across the nation reported that marijuana was the least of their worries, while only 6 percent said that the herb is the greatest menace in their neck of the woods. Although it may seem ridiculous that marijuana is still viewed as “Public Enemy #1” in some parts of the nation, the latest report actually marks the lowest threat ranking that weed has received from police in roughly 10 years.
Now that heroin has migrated outside of major cities like New York and Los Angeles, not to mention the push by doctors in recent years to prescribe addictive painkillers, marijuana has taken a backseat in the grand scheme of the drug war. The report shows that police are now more convinced than ever that drugs like heroin and meth have become a greater scourge on civil society than weed, prescription narcotics and even cocaine.
When it comes to illegal drugs contributing to crime surges, most law enforcement revealed that weed was not causing any upswings in violent criminal activity. Of course, this challenges many of the statements made by leading city officials in 2015 that suggest pot is causing violent behaviors. Earlier this year, New York City Police Chief William Bratton said that marijuana has caused an increase in murders, while just this week, a Maryland prosecutor attributed a homicide spike in Price George’s County to pot decriminalization.
Nevertheless, even though state and local police may not consider marijuana a priority, that has not stopped them from bringing the heat down whenever they can. A recent FBI crime report found that police are arresting someone every 51 seconds for possession of marijuana.
In fact, 88 percent of the drug arrests made in the United States last year were for minor pot possession. So, it has become evident that cops are taking the easy prey by going after people for minor pot-related offenses rather than making an effort to solve more serious crime—like several decades worth of unsolved rape kits that are likely still rotting away in storage across the country.
At least the federal government isn’t pulling any punches in regard to their ill feelings towards weed.
Despite, a congressional amendment that was signed into law last year by President Obama banning the Justice Department from spending federal dollars to prosecute the medical marijuana community, the DEA has continued to wage an unmerciful war against dispensaries and patients. Sadly, the U.S. is still spending upwards of $80 million a year to go after states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.
So, do law enforcement agencies feel that marijuana is the least of their concern? Maybe. But has that stopped them from nailing people to a cross over it? Not a chance.