As we continue to tear down the Berlin Wall of Marijuana Prohibition, we keep finding more information about how cops have been abusing the rights of marijuana consumers in their prosecution of the Drug War. Here are five instances where cops did some pretty messed-up things:
#5) Nebraska cops complain about Colorado weed crossing the border.
“We have had a significant increase in the number of cases and incidences with marijuana coming across from Colorado,” said Deuel County, Nebraska, Sheriff Adam Hayward. “One in every five cars, we are now finding something in there. We are paying for them to be housed. We are paying for them to be fed. We are paying for their medical expenses, which a lot of them do have,” Hayward continued. “And then a lot of them, even though they have money to buy drugs, they don’t have money to pay for an attorney. Therefore, the county has to pay for the public defender.”
So cops in Nebraska are complaining because they want to prohibit marijuana, but the state next to them, Colorado, is profiting from legal marijuana that makes its way across the border, threatening Nebraska’s prohibition. Yet when tribal cops from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota want to prohibit alcohol, the state next to them, Nebraska, is profiting from four beer stores selling 10,000 cans of beer per day in the border town of Whiteclay, population 10. In other words, Colorado’s bad for enabling Nebraska potheads, but Nebraska’s not for enabling South Dakota reservation alcoholics?
#4) One Seattle cop wrote four-out-of-five public toking tickets.
In August, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole reassigned an officer who reports showed had written almost four out of five of the 83 citations for public pot use since January. The biannual report on marijuana enforcement also showed that 36 percent of public toking tickets were written to African-Americans, who make up on 8% of Seattle’s population.
“In some instances, the officer added notes to the tickets. Some notes requested the attention of City Attorney Peter Holmes and were addressed to ‘Petey Holmes,’” Chief O’Toole writes. “In another instance, the officer indicated he flipped a coin when contemplating which subject to cite. In another note, the officer refers to Washington’s voter-enacted changes to marijuana laws as ‘silly.’”
#3) Illinois cop admits to smearing vehicles with weed for future K-9 stops.
The use of drug dogs – K-9 officers – to smell illegal contraband has long been a tool in the cops’ arsenal to bypass the protections of the Fourth Amendment and search citizens’ cars at a roadside traffic stop. In May, damning testimony from an Illinois police officer detailed how some cops abuse that power to conduct policing for profit.
“We’d go to a hotel or grocery store parking lots, throw (drugs) on U-Haul trucks… underneath big trucks and 18-wheelers and so forth,” said Collinsville, Illinois, police officer Michael Reichert in a pre-trial deposition, acknowledging that it was sometimes done without the vehicle owner’s permission. And sometimes, he said, marijuana was wiped across a car door. He said the dogs can detect the smell “for a time.”
#2) DEA supplies secret tips to local drug cops.
The program is called the DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD) and a report from Reuters blew the lid off the use of “intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records” from federal investigations in domestic policing. SOD comprises units from many agencies, including FBI, CIA, IRS, Homeland Security, and the National Security Agency (NSA), which was revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden to be engaged in data mining and spying on US citizens.
That federal cops might help state and local cops catch drug criminals isn’t the shocking part; there’s nothing illegal or untoward about that. The shocking part of SOD’s operations is something known as “parallel construction.” This is a technique SOD instructs the local cops to use once SOD has given them a tip so all evidence of SOD’s involvement is erased from the forthcoming trial. Think of it like money laundering, except with the investigatory process instead of illegal cash.
#1) Prosecutors tried to blame Michael Brown’s killing on marijuana wax.
The killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white cop Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, concluded with the grand jury declining to indict Wilson for any crime. Testimony released from the grand jury shows that prosecutors brought up Brown’s marijuana use forty-four times, referring to the 12 nanograms of active THC found in his bloodstream and implying that he was hallucinating and psychotic from using marijuana concentrate.
The grand jury heard that 12 nanograms of THC “could have potentially caused a loss in perception of space and time and there was also the possibility that there could have been hallucinations.” They were told that Brown had a conversation about marijuana wax before he’d died and “If one were to ingest that, you would be consuming a higher level of THC than you would if you were to have smoked or ingested the plant material?” They were introduced to experts who argued whether “you cannot draw any conclusions that he was suffering or that he was experiencing hallucinations or having a psychotic break?”