In 2010 there were 853,838 marijuana-related arrests in the U.S., over half of the 1.5 million drug arrests in this country. Every arrestee was at that moment barred from federal and state financial aid for college. And without that college education, the only way to achieve societal economic success in the future will be selling drugs. And each of those new generation of drug pushers will need to develop their own market for their product. And thus the war on drugs grows, destroying ever more lives.
For the law enforcement involved, it means more drug arrests, requiring more police officers, more employment opportunities. It means more confiscations of houses, cars, boats, planes, cash, all to be used for the benefit of law enforcement, making the drug war highly profitable for law enforcement agencies, like the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
It is little wonder that Sheriff Nienhuis opposes the legalization of “medical marijuana.” It provides his department with cars, and boats, and houses. The cash is used to buy fast cars with fancy paint jobs for his resource officers to drive.
When Nienhuis refers to marijuana as a gateway drug, he doesn’t mean gateway to harder drugs as much as a gateway into the inescapable criminal justice system, a world of attorneys that make a living prosecuting and defending marijuana users, judges that make a living sending marijuana users to jail, probation and parole officers who make their living forcing adult human beings to behave like children needing their diapers changed. It’s a world of jails and prisons paid for by taxpayers oblivious to a criminal justice system run for profit at taxpayer’s expense, and of slave prison labor.
In 2010, 40 states reported that their prisons cost a combined $39 billion, or approximately $17,300 per prisoner per year. Florida prisons cost the taxpayer $2.5 billion or nearly $21,000 per prisoner that year. But the cost in dollars doesn’t come close to the costs of over 100,000 Floridian lives wasting away in a system that has lost its way, no longer a correction system, but a system of revenge, most for crimes for which the prisoner is the only victim. I didn’t see Sheriff Nienhuis talk about those costs.
The physiological effect of marijuana relaxes the human nervous system and makes it more sensitive to stimulation. Unlike alcohol used to numb, and kill inhibitions, pot is popular as an aphrodisiac resulting in love, not fighting. By itself, it is basically harmless with no documented physically addictive qualities. It is just about as addictive as sex. But in the hands of a pusher, it can be used to introduce its users to crystal meth, heroine, and other very harmful drugs, all the more reason to keep it from the pushers by making it legal.
Should it be that our own criminal justice system is the worst possible result of smoking marijuana? Should our criminal justice system be forcing our young people into selling drugs rather than going to college? The criminal justice system is supposed to be the necessary downside to the rule of law, not an agent of victimization it has become. Law enforcement was designed to protect and serve the public. But today, most citizen are afraid of police to shoot first, ask questions later, use tasers rather than explain their arbitrary behavior, etc. Law Enforcement, including the Nienhuis Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, has become the bane of the society’s existence, corrupted by drug money, and drug confiscations.
It is really time to correct the mistakes that started with the criminalization of a weed and ended when we started allowing law enforcement to profit from their work. We not only need to decriminalize marijuana, but end all forms of government confiscation. The sheriffs are correct that the legalization of medical marijuana is just the first step, a necessary step toward putting law enforcement and the Criminal Justice System back in the Pandora’s Box.
Dennis Purdy is a Brooksville resident.