July 12, 2008

Drug-Related "crimes" are absurd-- especially this one

As you may have heard, this week two delinquent teens broke into a house in Auburn, and burglarized the place, as well as discharged an assault firearm within the house.

Here's an account of the events from WMTW
The tenant, Lawrence Coy, 39, ran to police for help.

After a short chase, police caught both Mohamoud and the juvenile. Police said an assault rifle was found in the getaway car.Mohamoud is being held at the Androscoggin County Jail on $15,000 bail. He is charged with burglary and reckless conduct with a firearm. In addition to those charges, the juvenile faces a additional charge of hindering apprehension.

Police also arrested Coy on suspicion of operating a marijuana-growing operation out of his home.

Coy, the victim of the crime, has been charged with-- "aggravated cultivation of plants" (doesn't that sound like an oxymoron?) and what's worse; It's entirely possible, and in sad fact quite likely, that Lawrence Coy, victim of crime, will serve a longer sentence than his aggressors-- who broke into his home, stole from him, and discharged an assault firearm in his house. (I think it bears repeating that the guy who broke into his home were firing a fucking assault rifle in the victim's house.)

When the Lawrence Coy, who was living in that home called the police, the police searched the house, and found that Coy had been growing cannabis in his basement. We don't know if these plants were for personal use (a victimless crime), for medical use (another victimless crime) or sale, and quite frankly it doesn't matter in the eyes of the law.

I don't even use drugs and this outrages me. Not only is this case an outrage, but it raises a series of points about drug laws in general:

1) Prohibition makes no sense as a strategy to combat drug abuse. Prohibition of the 1930s has taught us that making something illegal only drives it into the shadows, makes the contraband more potent (to balance the reward of sale against the risk of being caught), gives rise to powerful criminal organizations, and counter-intuitively, it actually increases consumption. Alcohol consumption was at it's all time high in America during the Prohibition Era.

2) It's a matter of Liberty-- the State currently has no laws preventing a person from spending all their money in strip clubs, from overeating to the point of morbid obesity and death, smoking too many cigarettes to the point of lung cancer or emphysema, or from drinking alcohol to the point of damaging their organs. In fact, people indulge in lewd behaviour, eat fatty foods, smoke, and binge drink, all across the great state of Maine-- without the law interfering. We all recognize that because we live in a free society, that a person has a right to do immoral or lewd things with their own personal affairs as they see fit so long as they do not harm anyone else, and that it is the responsibility of the individual to decide what they want to do with their bodies-- not the responsibility of government.

3) Drug use is not drug abuse. Just as many people use alcohol in moderation with little ill effect, many people use mind-altering drugs in moderation as well, (and if you think that alcohol isn't a mind-altering drug, tell that to a victim of drunk driving), and these people are able to maintain active lives as participating members of society. The only time that drug use becomes an issue for the government to deal with is when it leads to another crime-- and every crime that knee-jerk reactionaries fear come from drug use, be it vehicular manslaughter, robbery, driving to endanger, disturbing the peace, assault, etc, you name it -- there are already laws against all of these things, and should somebody's drug use lead to such criminal behavior, they should prosecuted as criminals for their crimes, not their drug use. If their drug use has started to affect other people's lives, then what you have is drug addiction, which leads to the next point:

4) Drug addiction is a sickness of the mind, and a sickness of the body. Drug addiction is a medical problem, and should be treated as such. Sending people to jail for drug offenses ruins people's lives, and doesn't get them the help and support that they need.

5) We can't afford the Drug War. The United State of America makes up only 4% of the world's population, yet we make up more than HALF of the world's prison population. Land of the free, eh? I don't know what the statistics are for Maine, but on average, a little more than a quarter of the prison population is in on drug related charges alone. This eats up taxpayer money to keep non-violent offenders behind bars, and eats up time and money sending police after non-violent offenders on the streets and in their homes when they could be protecting people from real criminals, like gun-wielding burglars.

Now back to the specific: We have a case where the victim is being punished for reporting a crime. This climate is the same one we see in inner cities where immigration laws are enforced by local police-- the populace learns to fear, hate, and mistrust the police that are supposedly there to serve and protect the peace. Why should a non-violent act, cultivating plants, be treated with a heavier hand by the law than misuse of a firearm, breaking and entering, and theft combined?

This absurdity needs to end, and it is more clear now in this case than ever that the State of Maine should Decriminalize possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis.

If you live in Maine, I urge you to get on http://maine.gov and look up your state senator and congressperson, and write them something like what I wrote above. I sent copies to both my senator and congressman.


  1. It's time to remove all the politicians that promote prohibition. How many more lives have to be needlessly devastated or lost? Prohibited drugs are way easier for kids to get than regulated drugs! Prohibition never works it just causes crime and violence. The year alcohol prohibition was repealed violent crime fell by 65 percent.

    On March 22, 1972: The Richard Nixon-appointed, 13-member National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommended the decriminalization of marijuana, concluding, "[Marijuana's] relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it."

    The USA spends $69 billion a year on the drug war, builds 900 new prison beds and hires 150 more correction officers every two weeks, arrests someone on a drug charge every 17 seconds, jails more people than any nation and has killed over 100,000 citizens in the drug war.

    In 1914 when there were no prohibited drugs 1.3% of our population was addicted to drugs, today 1.3% of our population is still addicted to drugs but there’s way more crime and violence because of the huge profits prohibition generates. Guns have absolutely nothing to do with using drugs, they have to do with drug prohibition. Al Capone didn’t kill people because he was drunk, he killed people because they got between him and his illegal drug money. The same goes for the drug gangsters of today.

    Drugs today are more potent, more readily available and often less expensive than they were in the early 70’s when Richard Nixon started the war on drugs. Every time you look at the news you see more and more drug busts involving bigger and bigger quantities of drugs, not less and less... doesn't that call for change?

    There’s only been one drug success story in US history, tobacco, by far the most deadly and one of the most addictive drugs. Almost half the users quit because of regulation, accurate information and medical treatment. No one went to jail and no one got killed.

    Not one person in history has ever died from marijuana. Many have died from its PROHIBITION.

    1997 annual American deaths caused by drugs:
    TOBACCO ........................ 400,000
    ALCOHOL ........................ 100,000
    ALL LEGAL DRUGS .......... 20,000
    ALL ILLEGAL DRUGS ....... 15,000
    CAFFEINE ............................ 2,000
    ASPIRIN .................................. 500
    MARIJUANA ............................... 0
    Source: United States Government,
    National Institute On Drug Abuse,
    Bureau Of Mortality Statistics.
    Marijuana And Hemp The Untold Story

    The right; to freedom of religion, free speech, a free press, to keep and bear arms, to be secure in your person, house, papers and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, to life, liberty and property, to be protected from having your property taken by the government without due process of law and without just compensation, to confront the witnesses against you, to be protected from excessive bail, excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishment, to vote and many others have been denied to millions of Americans in the name of the drug war.

    If you are called for jury duty and you don’t agree with the law the person is charged with, you have the right to vote not guilty, no matter what evidence is produced. Jurors implementing this right in all non-violent drug cases will shut down the ridiculous laws of prohibition. One juror in each case is all it takes. The bottom line is a juror has the right to judge not only the accused person but the LAW the person is accused of breaking. Don’t be intimidated stick to your position Vote Not Guilty in all non-violent drug cases.

    Even the World Health Organization has documented the Failure of U.S. Drug Policies, read the article here, join the mailing list, watch the videos:
    Internet Explorer: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/home
    Other Browsers: http://jsknow.angelfire.com/index.html

  2. While I certainly would not wish the legal system on anybody, let alone the cruel and unusual punishments that result from it, I also believe that responsibility for ones actions is a necessary ingredient to any lasting rehabilitation. Guilt and depression resulting from the addictive/alcoholic lifestyle are quite difficult for many to face and resolve and are a major source of future cravings and relapse. Unfortunately the legal system is not generally about rehabilitation but punishment. Any interested in the actual mechanics of addiction can get a free booklet on the matter from www.stopaddiction.com

  3. your so right man. the pigz gotta realize we r individual beings with capable of makin our own decisions. and if its a bad decision, hey we learn from it. point is drugs will always be there no matter what -inside the house, or out in the open- drugs arent goin anywhere. we deserve to have the freedom of a human being, the freedom to do with our bodies what we want- without punishment from those who are no greater than our own selves.