Trying to arrest our way to victory

Police made 853,838 arrests in 2010 for marijuana-related offenses, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report, released today. […]

Overall, law enforcement agents nationwide arrested 1,638,846 people last year for drug abuse violations, surpassing arrests for all other crimes.

Since 2000, law enforcement have reported making an estimated 7.9 million arrests for marijuana violations.

Here is the full report.

Of course, this puts the lie to the Drug Czar’s claims that the war on drugs is over, and his insistence that:

“As someone who has spent their entire career in law enforcement, I know we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.” NSDUH, September 8, 2011

“History has taught both of our nations that we must support robust and comprehensive drug policies which recognize we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem” Meeting with Sweden, March 21, 2011

“We can’t arrest our way out of this situation,” Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske told a crowd at the University of Charleston on Friday. West Virginia, February 25, 2011

“I will tell you what it should be. And they talked about it often. And that is, we are not going to arrest our way out of this situation, that we need to be, not soft on drugs or soft on crime, but we need to be smart on drugs.” PBS, December, 2010

“Director Ivanov recognizes that a balanced strategy within Russia is as important as we recognize here within the United States, that just as I’ve heard quoted in the Russian press that we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem in that country, we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem in the United States.” May 12, 2010

“We can’t arrest our way out of the situation,” Kerlikowske said. “What we’re doing now just isn’t sustainable.” Pasadena, March 1, 2010

… You get the idea. He even said it before he got the job!

“Chief Kerlikowske has readily acknowledged that we can’t ‘arrest our way out’ of these challenges and that new responses are needed.” February 11, 2009

You can say it all you want, Gil (in fact, google results for “kerlikowse” and “arrest our way” yields thousands of results), and you can claim that you’ve ended the war on drugs, and you can claim that you’re pursuing a balanced approach, but the truth is that you are part of a system that is arresting 1.6 million people a year for drug offenses.

One of the truly bizarre arguments that prohibitionists often use is that not that many people are in prison for drug possession (or marijuana possession) and so therefore I guess we shouldn’t be so upset or something (I’ve never really understood the argument).

Of course, it’s a lie. There are many people in prison for possession. But it’s also a lie because it pretends that federal prison is the only significant penalty for our enforcement-heavy drug policy. A “mere” drug arrest (as over 1.6 million people experience each year) for many can mean the loss of their job, their career, their pension, their savings, or their family.

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38 Responses to Trying to arrest our way to victory

  1. tintguy says:

    ***sarcasm on full blast***
    Of course seeing as there are all those overdose deaths (roughly triple the amount of arrests) the logical thig to do is to triple the amount of arrests so those poor addicts can live in prison instead of dying on the streets.

  2. Peter says:

    Not to mention the severe penalties imposed on immigrants as a result of a single drug arrest. Like lifetime exclusion and enforced separation from family.

  3. Francis says:

    I love the “balanced approach” nonsense. They’re smart enough to talk a good game about education and treatment while downplaying “enforcement” as simply “one piece of a comprehensive, multifaceted policy approach.” The drug warriors constantly seek to equate drug use with abuse and to suggest that only “addicts” use illicit drugs. And then we’re all supposed to pretend that treating addicts as CRIMINALS TO BE LOCKED IN F—ING CAGES LIKE ANIMALS is not fundamentally incompatible with treating addicts as human being suffering from an illness. That this is just “balance”?! These guys are seriously unbalanced.

  4. Francis says:

    In case anyone is interested (and in case it never makes it past the moderator), here’s what I attempted to post over at that article. (BTW, Duncan and darkcycle, nicely done!)

    “Also common is some variation of ‘It’s Prohibition that causes the killing,’ argument. Implying or inferring it’ll all stop once pot becomes legal. No, it won’t. Legalization will just cause shift in tactics and venues.”

    Sorry, but that’s absurd. Black markets created by prohibition are inherently violent. It’s not hard to see why. The government introduces violence by sending men with guns to confiscate sellers’ profits, destroy their inventories, and lock them (and their customers) in F—ING CAGES. (Hint: Those are acts of violence.) All of the other violence that surrounds the (non-alcohol, non-tobacco) drug trade is simply a reaction to the state-sponsored violence of prohibition. Prohibition also renders contracts unenforceable and makes it impossible for competitors to go to the courts or the police to challenge intimidation. Gee, I can’t imagine why those conditions might lead to violence.

    Look, it’s one thing if you want to argue that the violence (and official corruption, widespread contempt for the law, etc.) that prohibition creates are “worth it” because you believe that the war on drugs has been at least somewhat successful in keeping people from abusing “drugs” (other than alcohol of course – they can abuse that one to their hearts’ content.) I disagree with that view, but it’s at least somewhat coherent. But for God’s sake, please stop blaming “drugs” for the violent nature of the drug trade when it is PAINFULLY, BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS that prohibition is the real culprit. The U.S. wine industry is a $30 billion a year business. But for some reason we don’t read many stories about employees of rival wineries engaging in deadly shoot-outs over turf. And (unless I missed it), Robert Mondavi hasn’t hung any mutilated corpses from bridges as a warning to his critics. And yet, the alcohol trade USED TO BE extremely violent – during the 1920’s. I wonder why that was and what changed.

  5. pt says:

    When he says “we can’t arrest our way out of the problem” he actually isn’t saying that we should stop arresting so many people, but that we should pile more bureaucracy and spending programs on top of what we have now. He is doing exactly what Conservatives always accuse Liberals of doing, claiming we can spend our way out of the problem. I guess it is good for his pocketbook.

  6. malc says:

    He’s said it again:

    “We must do everything to reduce demand for drugs, but if the consumption of drugs cannot be limited, then decision-makers must seek more solutions — including market alternatives — in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organizations.”

  7. Dante says:

    “You can say it all you want, Gil … but the truth is that you are part of a system that is arresting 1.6 million people a year for drug offenses.”

    There it is, in a nutshell. Any “system” that can accomodate 1.6 million new people per year is freakin’ huge and robust. It (the “system”) has taken on a life of it’s own and will not go quietly. It must be killed deliberately. It can and will fight back, and that is why this madness never ends.

  8. TINMA says:

    Im going to write a short story. The day the bell didnt ring.

    The days after when it dosent ring will be a true change in this country…perhapse the world.

    Anyone care to guess what bell I speak of?

  9. claygooding says:

    It is time for another round of budget bids by the ONDCP and we will see how much balance is put forth once more.

  10. Jillian Galloway says:

    When alcohol was prohibited, people clearly saw the harm caused by the prohibition and demanded that it end. But today the cartels are careful to keep their violence in Mexico and it’s apparent that nobody here really cares what happens over there (even 40,000 brutal murders in the last five years).

    Therefore, we have to focus on what’s important to people – safety of their children, safety of their homes, and jobs.

    Aside from the fact that any of those 850,000 people arrested for possessing dried cannabis flowers could have been the children of NON-smokers, parents have an important decision to make – they have to decide if they want drug dealers selling marijuana to kids or supermarkets selling marijuana to adults. Forty years of failed prohibition has taught us that “nobody selling marijuana to nobody” is NEVER going to happen!

    To drive drug dealers off the street and greatly increase the safety of their children, parents need supermarkets selling legally-grown marijuana to adults at prices low enough to prevent illegal competition.

    In this time of job scarcity when job creation is *the* most important issue in the country, it is repugnant for legislators to deny people the incredible employment opportunities offered by a legal marijuana industry. Forty years is long enough to prove that we can’t end the buying, selling and consumption of marijuana, why then do we continue to export the thousands of jobs available in this industry to organized crime syndicates in Mexico? We need them kept here in America where they can pay the mortgages of American people and put food on American tables.

    • claygooding says:

      Jillian,,please post the connection for the petition to end this war on the poor by using the “jobs” creation tactic,,,in fact,,,post any petition that attacks the WoD in any way and it will get more than the 5000 signatures it needs.

  11. Servetus says:

    No doubt the phrase “…we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem” means different things to different people.

    To reformers it’s a self-evident truism. Massive arrests have done nothing to change public access to popular illicit substances.

    To prohibitionists, the phrase means that in addition to massive arrests, drug raids must be carried out by SWAT teams who kill innocent citizens and their dogs. There must be draconian drug penalties that stigmatize people for life. There must be a system of forfeiture that enriches corrupt law enforcement personal; including theft, and drug and cash skimming at crime scenes. Law enforcement focused corporatists must profit. Taxpayers must be fleeced. The judicial system must officially accommodate testilying by police and the general corruption it provokes. Massive political exploitation and government disinformation must be endured. Drug cartels and raging border conflicts must be created and potentiated with plenty of guns obtained through the ATF. The CIA must continue to provide drugs to low income neighborhoods. Drug laws must allow for bigoted arrest agendas targeting minorities and cultural or political dissidents. The laws must act to violate the sovereignty of other nations and to provide a plausible platform for dubious espionage activities. And drug laws must never acknowledge the authority of logic, reason or science.

    Then, and only then, can the drug problem be sustained forever.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      “To reformers it’s a self-evident truism. Massive arrests have done nothing to change public access to popular illicit substances.”

      What in the world are you talking about? Of course it’s drastically changed the dynamic of public access. Today just about anyone in every nook and cranny in the country has unfettered 24/7/365 access on demand. The drugs are more potent and are much less expensive when pricing is expressed expressed in constant dollars. Well except for cocaine. Coke is actually cheaper in nominal dollars over 4 decades later. Now that’s a good trick.

      In 1968 they didn’t smoke merrywanna in Muskogee, neither did they take their trips on LSD. Today Muskogee Oklahoma has a thriving street meth market with access at any time of the day or night.

      If they stopped being stupid today it would still take a couple of decades to just get back to the starting line. They couldn’t have screwed this up worse had the utter and abject failure of these public policies been the goal.

  12. Duncan20903 says:

    1.6 million sounds like an awfully large number to me. Are we sure we’re not counting criminal charges rather than people? E.g. I knew a girl a couple of decades back who was the local “go to” person for whatever you wanted. The police got a search warrant for her home which found her being charged with possession of cocaine, heroin, quaaludes, LSD, magic mushrooms and cannabis and a corresponding “intent to distribute” for each. That’s 12 felonies but only one arrest for those keeping score at home.

    Just FYI the search warrant was suppressed and she walked because that very intelligent woman just said no when the cops knocked and asked to come in. Actually, just screamed no is a more accurate description. I doubt I’ll ever understand why the cops used that tactic when they could have just yelled “police, search warrant.” Don’t expect people to be fooled when you yell “gas company we have a leak” at an all electric home. But that’s drug enforcement cops for you.

  13. Duncan20903 says:

    Oh my, the poor, poor Federal government. All they want is to make life better for everyone. They don’t like being such meanies. Boo fucking hoo.

    Remember, the guy who’s being quoted was moving his lips when he regurgitated the nonsense quoted.

    HELENA — The federal government has spent huge sums of money in its war on drugs but fears those efforts will be undermined in states where medical marijuana is legal, says a former federal prosecutor.

    Since the 1970s when the federal government began its war on drugs, its main focus has been cutting off supply, not prosecuting individual users.

    “The role of the federal government when it comes to drugs is not to go after users,” Mercer said. “The focus of the U.S. attorneys in the country and the focus of the DEA … is to go after those big organizations.”

    Earlier this year, the U.S. attorney in Montana raided numerous medical marijuana grow operations in the state. Mercer said he’s surprised that defendants in those cases haven’t used the Ogden memo as a defense, saying they were confused and thought they were being lawful. Instead, most of those defendants have pleaded guilty.

    To Mercer, that means they were selling to minors, undercover investigators (WTF??) and people without medical marijuana cards.

    “Clearly people were not operating within the contours of the state law,” he said.

    Yes indeed, since we said that the actors in the medicinal cannabis retail distribution chain wouldn’t be targeted by law enforcement as long as they were in compliance with State law it proves that anyone arrested by the Feds was out of compliance. Now that’s some elite level spin doctoring if you ask me. It’s very strange, I swear I read something predicting this strategy perhaps as many as 2 years ago. Perhaps it will come back to me.

    I think this one should go into the “if you can’t lick ’em with logic, then baffle them with bullshit” file.

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  15. claygooding says:

    Do we send thank you cards to the police for arresting our way out of prohibition?

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  18. Dana Beal sentenced – 2.5 years prison; 2.5 years parole/probation; 257 days time served credit:

  19. DdC says:

    Oh Gilligan!

    I used to wonder about people who said it’s all in how you look at it. I thought that was true but there was still only one true answer. Or I thought looking at it standing on my head wouldn’t change the answer. In many cases it’s true, as to how they may see things differently. But there is still only one truth. One side has to be false.

    We seem to put a lot of stock in retribution. That causes a lot of the victims. In Oil spills, high speed stolen car chases or pot busts. But it really is all in how you look at it. Coming or Going… Wasting a trillion dollars busting stoners seems insane. Getting the trillion dollars busting stoners seems evil, but logical. If each cog can forgive themselves for feeding their families busting stoners then so be it. It’s not about getting stoned.

    Any “Police Action” is about profits and power controlling resources. All “necessary evils” to provide us sickness to “treat” for money. Thanks to the dead soldiers and 100 times more collaterally damaged our oil under their land is safe for exploitation. To burn in our infernal combustions. To fill the finite space of nitrogen and oxygen with dioxins and sulfur. In engineered traffic jams using more crude oil causing more asthma to treat with inhalers. Except for those who can’t stop a full blown attack, die. “Taking a hit of Ganja has been known to stop a full blown Asthma attack.” What would the message be to the living kids?

    … and Dr Gil sez… no no no no, don’t smoke it no more,
    Yo just tired waking up on de floor.
    I say, No thank you please, With Ganja, now i don’t wheeze,
    Gil fears he’ll have to sell inhalers door to door…chachacha.

    “As someone who has spent their entire career in law enforcement, I know we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem.”

    True Gilligan. No “problom” mon. Just profits.

    US Marijuana Arrests Percentage Share of Total Drug Arrests

    2010 @ 52.1%

    NORML Releases Most Comprehensive Analysis Of US Marijuana Arrest Data To Date

    $10,400 per arrest x 853,838 arrests = $8,879,915,200.00 taxable income somebody got and probably aren’t too anxious to stop getting it. Especially if its those (fillintheblank). Cost of a cage brings Obombo more taxes than joblets @ MickeyD.

    “History has taught both of our nations that we must support robust and comprehensive drug policies which recognize we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem” Meeting with Sweden, March 21, 2011

    History, A lie, agreed upon. Censored school books. Still no problem arresting people for pot. Unless making a living is a problem. Or receiving part of that trillion dollars spent. Tax money Rush. Precious tax money we must take from seniors and victims of administrated disenfranchisement. Oh Gilligan! You’re such a fuck up.

    “We can’t arrest our way out of this situation,” OiNkDeCePtions Director Gilligan Kashkowske told a crowd at the University of Charleston on Friday. West Virginia, February 25, 2011

    Whach we got chere is failUr to comunkate… What University is it during the other week days? We can’t arrest our way out of this situation so we must steer the coarse laddybucks. Otherwise we might lose the situation that has provided us with so many benefits. Christmas confiscations and forfeitured retirement homes for our badged ones. $72k/y for a cage with no view. Tax paid. Plus taxes back. Stimerlates the ekomonomy. Takes funds from the local markets. More dependent on Feds assistance. No bid contracts to G-20 Corporatists. No problom mon. Just keep it going. Not too many, not too few. Just keep them doggies movin’.

    “I will tell you what it should be. And they talked about it often. And that is, we are not going to arrest our way out of this situation, that we need to be, not soft on drugs or soft on crime, but we need to be smart on drugs.” PBS, December, 2010

    Fire your speech writers Gilligan. We need to be smart on drugs? No drop out people on drugs? Illiterates can’t toke? Piss test and a spot warrant-less geometry quiz? Cops drop in and check your diploma. Joe Friday can’t pronounce the University. You know he’s clean.

    “Director Ivanov ,,, strategy within Russia ,,, important we recognize the United States,,,as ,,,Russian. ,,,We are … going to arrest … the problem … country, we are … going to arrest our way out… problem…the United States.” May 12, 2010

    Ivanov? Ivanov? Kerlikowski? What’s that chick’s name with NIDA? Vulcanov? Ain’t she a commie too? Maybe she’s a Vulcan. Is this some kind of plot against mom, apple pie and blue jeans? A Russian Invasian or Outvasion? These are those mole people they told us to look for when we weren’t hiding from nuclear attacks under our school desks. Charlie sez to watch him Folks, cause he’s a thoroughly dangerous man! You may not know it but this man is a spy. He’s a undercover agent for the FBI. And he’s been sent down here to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan! Would you believe this man has gone as far. As tearing Wallace stickers off the bumpers of cars. And he voted for George McGovern for President. He’s a friend of them long haired, hippy-type, pinko fags! I betchya he’s even got a commie flag tacked up on the wall inside of his garage. He’s a snake in the grass, I tell ya guys. He may look dumb but that’s just a disguise, He’s a mastermind in the ways of espionage. Obvious they have a limited vocabulary. Ve are not goink to arrest our vay out. We? We komrad? Ain’t nyet “WE” arresting nyet body. Tiz you, Tzarman Tarzan. “Taaar-maaan-ganiiii, = white ape.” Gilligan the White Ape. lol

    “We can’t arrest our way out of the situation,” Kerlikowske said. “What we’re doing now just isn’t sustainable.” Pasadena, March 1, 2010

    $8,879,915,200.00 ain’t chicken feed Gilligan. Arrest is only one of our main attractions. Once you join we offer $4500.00 Califano rehabilitation resorts. Where X priests assure the most accurate urine examinations. So you know your getting the piss you pay for. Complete marihuana elimination from the system in 3 to 6 weeks. Visa and Masterace accepted.

    “Chief Kerlikowske has readily acknowledged that we can’t ‘arrest our way out’ of these challenges and that new responses are needed.” February 11, 2009

    Analysis of the benefits of marijuana legalization are as follows:

    * An excise tax of $1 per half-gram joint of marijuana would raise about $1 billion per year, as much as the current excise tax on cigarettes.
    * Retail sales on the legal market would range from $3 – $5 billion, generating another $250 – 400 million in sales taxes.
    * Legalization would save over $156 million in law enforcement costs for arrest, prosecution, trial and imprisonment of marijuana offenders. Intrusive CAMP helicopter surveillance would also be eliminated.
    * Based on experience with the cigarette tax, total revenues of $1.5 – $2.5 billion might be realized.
    * Based on experience with the wine industry, the total economic activity generated by legal marijuana could be nearly three times as great as retail sales, around $8 – $13 billion. Amsterdam-style coffeehouses would generate jobs and tourism. If the marijuana industry were just one-third the size of the wine industry, it would generate 50,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in wages, along with additional income and business tax revenues for the state.
    * Industrial hemp could also become a major business, comparable to the $3.4 billion cotton industry in California.
    ~ California NORML

    Analysis Finds Marijuana Legalization Could Yield California $1.5-$2.5 Billion Per Year
    ~ CA NORML

  20. gee, haven’t i heard this story before? oh that’s right, it’s the same exact shit i read last year,

    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that,
    and the year before that …. ad infinitum.

    good thing we have all those “medical marijuana” states out there so the numbers of arrests will go down.


    • darkcycle says:

      California’s arrest numbers have dropped, Brian. How ya gonna count the gains when you have States like Indiana and New York and Florida taking up all the slack?
      Protection for patients under state law is HUGE. Man all you ever do is disparage.

      • what exactly did i say that is untrue?

        i am not disparaging anyone — just pointing out the obvious truth that 40 years of doing the same shit over and over does us no more good than it does the opposition.

        and stay tuned sports fans — as soon as sativex is approved as a medicine the arrest rates in med-pot states are going to skyrocket and all of the clinics will be shut down.

        so my friend, stop reading the stuff i write if it bothers you so much — but i ain’t drinking the kool-aid, and will continue to tell people that the self-congratulatory delusional circle-jerk of the status quo in drug policy reform is getting us nowhere.

      • Duncan20903 says:

        DC, I’ve never yet met a pessimist that didn’t self identify as a “realist”.

        There’s some very strange noises coming out of Indiana this year. It can’t all be because Mr. Souder was cashiered from office. Can it?

    • DdC says:

      Maybe they didn’t read your charts? Or hear your constant whines? Or have such a firm grasp of the obvious as you do. Yes Brian. We know. The CSA is bogus and needs overturned. 40 years we’ve known that. Until the corporate influence is removed. Wait, until it is recognized. No one will lift a finger to change it and remove their own profits. Until then, individuals with state initiatives are protected for medicinal use. Cali is protected for all use under the Prop 215 definition. So for you it will always be the fault of the reformers. Do you actually believe the red neck states without initiatives are safer? Or busted less? Stop crying about the color of the band aids. It’s still better than getting infected. Because Obombo isn’t the peacenik no one ever thought he was? They didn’t bust me or anyone I know. They only bust those breaking the commerce clause by selling or in states without protection for the individual. 45.8 percent of all drug arrests were for possession of marijuana. Only 16 places have laws protecting them. Again nothing about those legal state tokers getting busted. So the states with initiatives are protecting people. Unless there is data stating something different. In which case those busted would have a legitimate defense.

      Pot Busts Much More Likely in Some States, Counties
      If you smoke pot, you’re less likely to get busted in Pennsylvania or North Dakota than in Alaska or New York — and much more likely in certain Texas counties, where 1 in 15 people have been arrested for marijuana smoking.

      New York City: Pot Arrests For 2010 Top 50,000

      Marijuana Prosecutions for 2010 Near Record High
      By region, the percentage of marijuana arrests was highest in the Midwest (63.5 percent of all drug arrests) and southern regions (57 percent of all drug arrests) of the United States and lowest in the west, where pot prosecutions comprised only 39 percent of total drug arrests.

      Former US Atty.: Strict Medical Pot Law May Be OK
      Montana’s former U.S. attorney says he believes the federal government would be comfortable with state medical marijuana laws that are tightly written and allow very few people to legally use the drug.

      This is a former US Attorney. So “federal government” whomever that is. Would be comfortable? Like they have a say in Constitutional law depending on their comfort levels. Oh we don’t have to torture and terrorize, pillage and maim. But if we don’t we feel uncomfortable. Uneasy. Just don’t feel like it. Yawn. What in Unkle Myrtle’s Ghost kind of government we got? Rayguns psychic woman was weird enough. Until junior. The entire CSA has been deemed arbitrary and capricious by Judge Young. Catch 22’s, crooked pol-lie-cies. So now Montana has too many sick people for the feds to feel comfortable. Don’t ya just wish all diseases could be cured so easily. Just find a fed, make him comfortable and legalize nuclear pocket rockets. What a crock. Paranoid freaks in the Montana legislature and courts. Terrorizing Americans so someone in the “federal government” will be comfortable. No drug is that whack.

      • jesus dude, you can’t even make a coherent sentence, let alone a reasoned discourse. go take your meds and ignore me if you don’t like what i say.

        but your drivel has done nothing to indicate in any way that my points are erroneous.

  21. DdC says:

    One Drug Arrest Every 19 Seconds in the U.S.
    New FBI Numbers Reveal Failure of the “War on Drugs”

    Pot Smokers Are The Most Officially Oppressed Minority In America
    Sep 14 2011
    Old Hippie: “Would the American public put up with this treatment if it was happening to gay and lesbian people? To Jews? To Muslims? Certainly not!”

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