Ever since The New York Times unleashed a full-scale print attack against Uncle Sam’s outdated pot policies, the propaganda machine inside the White House has been insisting that it must continue to wage a War on Drugs in the best interest of public health, not just criminal justice.
However, recent statistics detailing the incarceration rates for non-violent drug offenders indicate statements made earlier last month by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in response to the Times’ feature “Repeal Prohibition, Again” are blatant lies; otherwise the number of Americans busted for minor pot possession would not have nearly tripled since the early 1990s.
Indeed law enforcement has been on a quest for the past two decades to rid the streets of stoners. Recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigations shows that despite the majority of the population gravitating towards relaxing the pot laws across the United States, cops have been reeling in lovers of the leaf at an increasing rate since 1991. In fact, arrests for marijuana possession now make up nearly 42 percent of all drug arrests across the nation.
These statistics, of course, vary from state to state: New York has one of the highest rates — 12.7 percent — for busting people for pot possession, while Massachusetts and California have some of the lowest, with less than one percent of their arrests attributed to the possession of marijuana. Although some states have technically implemented decriminalization laws, underhanded police officers in New York, for example, have been using “stop and frisk” tactics to get around provisions written in these laws that allows officers to arrest people if the marijuana is found in public view. Incidentally, this happens shortly after a cop says, “Let me see what’s in your pockets.”
The ACLU estimates that state law enforcement agencies are investing more than $4 billion a year to bust people for possession of marijuana, with some states obviously putting more emphasis on enforcing weed laws than others. Some states have made it an economic sacrament to tax the average pot smoking citizen by forcing them to spend thousands of dollars duking it out in court to ensure they do not go to jail. In addition, local governments are squeezing convicted stoners for even more money by hanging them up in the system for years by forcing them into expensive, court-mandated drug treatment programs.
With fines, court costs and attorneys fees, not to mention additional cost for rehab, getting busted for pot possession can easily cost an individual over $10,000. Considering there were nearly 660,000 people arrested for this offense in 2012, it easy to see just how much money states are profiting from continued prohibition — and these figures only account for those offenders who did not go to prison.
In the end, prohibition is about money, not health or public safety.