A public official says what he thinks of us

Here’s another instance of a reader taking it upon himself to write about an issue.

You may have heard that Utah started encouraging snitching on suspected marijuana cultivators with a special website: http://www.illegalutahmarijuanagardens.com/ (as of this writing, the website is unavailable due to exceeding bandwidth limits).

So Larry wrote a nice, polite letter to the various email addresses listed on the site before it crashed:

Dear Stalwart Investigators,

I do not live in Utah, though I have visited your lovely state. I certainly share your goal of protecting the spectacular countryside of Utah.

However, I am very skeptical that your efforts are doing any good and in fact suspect that they are making a bad situation worse. You see, marijuana cultivators anticipate that a certain percentage of their crop will be seized and they plant extra to compensate. As you step up your eradication efforts, so do they step up the planting. In other words- what little pressure you are able to exert on growers only causes more devastation to the forest.

The futility of the effort is clear once you realize that despite ever-increasing numbers of plants seized by law enforcement the retail price of marijuana has remained steady for a decade. This clearly indicates that “eradication” (quotes are quite appropriate here) has done nothing to alter the balance between supply and demand.

My suggestion to Utah is to concentrate on less harmful routes of law enforcement with regards to marijuana.

Best regards,
Larry Simpson

Nice, and well-reasoned. Excellent arguments. What kind of a reply might he get?

From: Jim Whitcomb
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 10:19 AM
To: Larry Simpson
Subject: Re: Utah marijuana eradication

Think what you might, but until you have seen what garbage your suppliers leave at one of these site, and what it does to our spectacular countryside, don’t condemn us for doing our job. It is against the LAW to grow Marijuana and is being done by mostly Illegal Aliens. I am proud of this COUNTRY and I am proud to be an AMERICAN.

I will do my job to protect this Country and its citizens, even dope smoking, baggie pants and earring wearing shit heads like you. You have no clue what is going on in the real world and probably never will, so don’t tell us what we should or should not do.

Wow. Read that again!

As Larry indicates to me, this official probably got fed up with getting a lot of emails on this and started copying and pasting his response without even reading the email, but still, that’s really over the top — especially to be sending on official email.

So Larry wrote back:

Dear Mr. Whitcomb,

Using such an uncivil tone in response to a civil letter is frankly disturbing coming from a public servant. Accordingly, I have copied the Commissioner of the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Sherriff of Millard County, who should be aware of your attitude towards the public.

For the record, I am conservative in appearance and politics, and am a productive member of society. Please be aware that I am as outraged as you are about the destruction of public lands by illegal growers. We simply disagree about the economic incentives that contribute to the situation.

Best regards,
Larry Simpson

Again, excellent job. Try to diffuse the anger and get a real dialogue.

The official did calm down and responded:

From: Jim Whitcomb
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 6:27 PM
To: Larry Simpson
Subject: Re: Utah marijuana eradication

One thing you must try to understand a especially about drug and narcotic investigation is they are what you would probably say ” it’s not cost effective”. But legalizing or allowing the growing of Marijuana infuriates me.

Marijuana is the gateway drug to the rest of our drug problems. The THC content is 5-7 times higher than when Marijuana first came on the scene. If people don’t think that is a problem, they should have to deal with these people who smoke Marijuana and see what it does to their brain.

I have been working drug and narcotic investigation for the last 10 years and I get the responses like yours a lot. I just wish you could see if you haven’t how this affects people who use.

I have been outdoor person my whole life and I have seen first hand what these people who grow Marijuana do to our countryside. I want to try to keep spectacular for the rest of the public to enjoy as well.

So I guess as long as it is illegal to grow Marijuana and I am enforcing the law, economics will have to take a back seat. I just want to keep our public lands safe and spectacular for the future and I think it is very hard to put a dollar value on what that will cost to make it happen.

Thanks for your reply back.

OK, finally we get to see a little bit about what makes him tick. Of course, there’s that cognitive dissonance — he’s so sure about the evils of marijuana that any argument showing that what he is doing doesn’t help but actually makes things worse falls on deaf ears.

And there’s also the generalization based on skewed personal experience (which I touched on in this post). As a narcotics investigator, he’s seen some damaged individuals who also use marijuana. He makes the wrong assumption based on that correlation, and thinks it’s the marijuana to blame.

He even goes so far as to say “I just wish you could see if you haven’t how this affects people who use.” Um, we have. Every day, with bright, contributing members of society in all walks of life. The ironic thing is that he probably has friends he admires who use marijuana (but just don’t tell him that).

Mr. Whitcomb, and people like him, are going to be tough nuts to crack. We may not succeed in convincing them. But if enough people like Larry keep showing themselves to be polite and reasoned advocates for legalization (not to mention LEAP, et al), even Whitcomb could develop a tiny whisper of self-doubt.

(Note: Larry and Jim’s names have been changed in this post. I was more interested in the dynamics of this discussion than in having the names show up in Google. Paragraph breaks were also added for easier reading.)

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21 Responses to A public official says what he thinks of us

  1. Just me. says:

    Gee, nice to know all of us who earn a decent living , support HEALTHY families , are productive and happen to consume cannabis are damaged goods . Eh what the hell does he know . Sounds like hes sterotyped millions of people to be baggie pant wearing good for nothings…oh wait… I have a few baggie pants hanging right next to my suit and ties humm…

    Come on guy…crawl out from behind the badge for a while, life isnt just about being a cop and enforcing the law .

  2. mikekinseattle says:

    It’s hard to get through to people like ‘Mr Whitcomb’. I had a similar experience with a fellow who went off on me because I was gathering signatures for WA state’s legalization initiative. He told me I had no idea what marijuana does to kids and families, how it destroys them. I told him I have smoked cannabis for over 35 years, and had raised a family, so I had some idea of how it might affect a family. I’m a very straight looking professional in my mid 50s. He made a comment to the effect of ‘go smoke your poison’, and stomped off. I have no idea if he reflected on our exchange, but I somehow doubt it.

  3. claygooding says:

    The saddest part is that these are public officials,probably elected for their beliefs about marijuana,by people that believe the same way they do.

    Fuch em,grow your own.

    Remove the market,remove the criminals. Do not buy or sell marijuana. A non-violent,viable solution to a stagnant,violent situation.

  4. Bruce says:

    I’ve been throwing rocks at Crows ever since witnessing one pluck a baby Robin from its nest depite the vociferous protestation of its parents.
    We are dealing here with the human equivalent to the common Crow. CAW! CAW!
    LAW! LAW!
    Where’s a f%cking rock…

  5. Just me. says:

    Looks like someone wants to make more money..or…

    My Link

  6. Daniel Cardenas says:

    Bruce – that’s poignant and beautiful. Seriously.

  7. auggie says:

    Bruce, I see it as the law is the rock thrower futily trying to stop the crow for doing what comes natural to it.

  8. denmark says:

    All I can say at this point is that it’s great people are taking action, however, I would advise caution, extreme caution.
    In the return letter to the official one might have included quotes from other law enforcement officials and their reasons to end Prohibition.

    Obama re-authorized the Patriot Act with no changes in it at all. With that said, last night on the local news station they highlighted a “drug bust” by an HP. The news caster said three things the two people were charged with and I do believe the last one had the word terrorism in it. I’ve looked at KSL5 for the story but cannot find it.

    For me though this battle needs to be concentrated at the Congressional level, over and over again. We may change one or two local level minds but it’s the congress who will finally end the insanity.


    Congressman Jason Chaffetz

    This is the guy that deserves attention and emails. He is super anti-marijuana and has said he might seek the Senate seat now occupied by Hatch.

  9. kaptinemo says:

    “I told him I have smoked cannabis for over 35 years, and had raised a family, so I had some idea of how it might affect a family. I’m a very straight looking professional in my mid 50s. He made a comment to the effect of ‘go smoke your poison’, and stomped off. I have no idea if he reflected on our exchange, but I somehow doubt it.”

    One thing I’ve learned about prohibs; they always expect to be able to ‘transmit’ and never to ‘receive’, like their mental thumbs are on their verbal microphones at all times, never listening because they honestly think their positions are logically unassailable.

    So, when the articulate reformer shows up and gives the lie to that, they suffer the equivalent of a mental short circuit. You can almost see it in their faces when they realize they’ve just been trounced rationally. The evasions and the dissembling begins…if not calumnies against your heritage, mental abilities, etc.

    Yep, such unfortunates exist, perfect examples of Tom Paine’s observation that trying to argue with someone who’s divorced the use of reason has all the usefulness of administering medicine to the dead. Concentrate your efforts on the layers of society above such sad creatures. People like that may take their whole lives to change…and we can’t afford to wait for them any longer.

  10. Cliff says:

    “I will do my job to protect this Country and its citizens, even dope smoking, baggie pants and earring wearing shit heads like you.

    Yes, even if it kills you.

    WOW, what an intelligent, constructive and civil comment issued by this person with his government issued jewelry and firearm. I’m sure he is a hoot at his local watering hole with his attitude towards those whom he is sworn to protect. I’m glad I’m not directly ‘protected’ by this fine example of our ‘civil servants’, but I’m convinced that most LEO’s share his mindset and mentality, and I act accordingly.

    Avoid contact, be courteous if contacted and never, ever consent to search.

    /I also would never snitch out a grower either, ever.

  11. Cliff says:

    BTW, I own no baggy pants, I don’t have an ear ring or tattoos and I have worked for over 35 years, in jobs that don’t pay near his salary and I produce a service which has an actual measurable value.

  12. claygooding says:

    It is starting too unravel when Fox News pushes this kind of story.

  13. ezrydn says:

    One thing this civil servant has shown us is what we can expect AFTER legalization. They just can’t seem to let go of it.

    Imagine the self-sustaining hell they’ll go through when legalization passes. We know why they do it to us. Why would they do it to themselves? However, they will. You of the younger set will see and hear it.

    Just his rhetoric shows he’s losing it already. Without letting the cat outta the bag, what was this clown’s position where you contacted him? A position, hopefully, he’ll have to give up soon.

  14. Steve Clay says:

    Economics never takes a back seat, it’s always the driver.

  15. InsanityRules says:

    If the gun-toting utility belt and tin badge wearing shitheads like Whitcomb think they can alter the basic laws of economics with a badge and a gun, perhaps next they should take on the laws of physics and solve the energy crisis and global warming by outlawing gravity and banning friction.

    See what authoritarian-thinking idiots are doing to our once-free country? Does Whitcomb actually believe the fallacies he spouts? These drug war tit-suckers remind me of the zombies in Night of the Living Dead…

  16. Maria says:

    That’s the wall right there.

    He even seems to realize, with great frustration and genuine pain, that the efforts being put in to eradicate and stop the illegal grow ops in the parks are not making a dent and are “not cost effective.”

    Yet he blows a gasket when someone so much as suggests to step back and look at the alternatives and the bigger picture at play.

    I empathize with him though. His mindset and choice of words speak of confusion and anger; of the fear of so much wasted effort and time and lives. Of giving in and giving up.

    What he needs to see is that normalization of this plant, of allowing citizens to grow it, isn’t giving in or giving up.

    If ramming your head against a brick wall produces no portal through to the other side then stop and build a ladder to climb over it. Only the brutishly cruel will consider building a ladder akin to giving up. And only then because they want you to ram your head against the wall once again.

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  18. nt109 says:

    dont worry folks. Nothing to see here. We will spend billions of your tax dollars on failed policy nothing to see here. It works! yeah it does. The excessive spending worked great in the EU. Lets just spend spend spend on protecting people from themselves while big pharma peddles shit drugs that actually do kill people. Good policy man. We don’t want to actually allow people to take a “drug” or “herbal” product that produces an effect with minimal side effects and a low risk of addictions. We want you to take those other drugs. You know the good drugs. That are sponsored by great companies like phizer, J&J, and whoever pays as much money to my senate campaign. But, the war on drugs is working, NOT, sarcasm. It’s not working but lets keep funding it. Buy our bonds, print more money, run up the deficit. Works great man. Good policy Mr. Fed. keep it up. Dumbasses. Who the fuck is running your program over the Mickey Mouse. LOL … Too funny.

  19. LegOwlEyes says:

    It’s absolutely disgusting that logic and reason are countered by stupidity and ignorance at every level.

    The funny part is that marijuana wasn’t a problem until law enforcement made it a problem. It’s alcohol prohibition 2.0

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