What would cops do without weed? For one thing, they'd sure spend a lot less time arresting and processing petty pot violators. How much time? For starters, however long it took to bust the estimated 739,000 Americans arrested for minor pot possession in 2006.
That's according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, which reported last week that a record 829,625 Americans were arrested for violating marijuana laws last year. Of those arrested, 89 percent of those were charged with simple pot possession -- the highest annual total ever recorded and nearly three times the number of citizens busted 15 years ago.
Yet to hear local law enforcement spin it, busting small-time potheads isn't their priority. The record number of busts, they claim, is simply a reflection that record numbers of Americans are now smoking pot.
I don't know if pot use is actually up, but it wouldn't surprise me. When our president is an idiot, and conservatives seem to have declared war on common sense, any diversion from reality becomes attractive.
The bottom line: Since 1990 over 10.4 million Americans -- predominantly young people under age 30 -- have been busted for pot. Thousands have beendisenfranchised, tens of thousands have been unnecessarily sent to "drug treatment," hundreds of thousands have lost their eligibility for student aid, and perhaps an entire generation (or two) has been alienated to believe that the police are an instrument of their oppression rather than their protection. These are the tangible results of the government's stepped up war on pot -- results that go beyond the FBI's record numbers, and it's high time that politicians and the general public began taking notice.
Legalizing marijuana isn't a political option at this time, which is a sad fact. Even getting medical marijuana legalized, which should be a "no-brainer", has been a losing battle. This is just one of the many symptoms of a country with a terminal illness.