Creating Criminals

This, to me, is an important point. Too many people think that drug laws are about catching criminals, when, in fact, they’re more about creating criminals.

Marijuana law just creates criminals by Hakeem Jeffries at CNN

The consequences of an arrest are severe, especially for young people of color who are already disproportionately subjected to criminal justice system intervention and incarceration. An arrest creates serious barriers to going to college or getting a job, and that person’s future may begin to spiral downward. The damage to police and community relations cannot be overstated.

Another serious problem is that these needless and inappropriate arrests detract from arresting and prosecuting serious criminals. Millions of dollars in law enforcement resources are wasted. Thousands of lives are damaged with the contamination of having a criminal record.[…]

The connected and powerful — including many in high political office — have frequently admitted to smoking marijuana when they were young. We didn’t unmercifully penalize them. We should stop needlessly criminalizing tens of thousands of our young people for doing the same thing.

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54 Responses to Creating Criminals

  1. kaptinemo says:

    Left my tuppence, there…as did over a thousand more, and I expect the number will rise even higher.

    Mr. Granderson may yet regret his unconscionably, irredeemably stupid remarks…

    • kaptinemo says:

      That is, I tried to. Went back to the site and the comment isn’t there…after I saw it posted. Guess it was too rational for them…

  2. Dante says:

    “The connected and powerful — including many in high political office — have frequently admitted to smoking marijuana when they were young. We didn’t unmercifully penalize them. We should stop needlessly criminalizing tens of thousands of our young people for doing the same thing. ”

    Yes, we should. No, we won’t. Why?

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  3. claygooding says:

    An arrest for marijuana can result in young people being locked into a poverty level life’s earning ability and in turn cause the people refused more education and training because of that arrest to become involved in the only job opening left that allows them to provide the Playstation and latest computer for his family,,the drug market. They don’t p-test.

    • kaptinemo says:

      But what really needs to be said is this: No amount of militarized police will be able to stop the eventual explosion of the scores of millions of disaffected, marginalized, increasingly desperate people who’ve been given the backhand by society courtesy of the DrugWar. That will probably occur as the economy worsens. The #Occupy Movement is a very clear symptom of that emerging.

      If you make it so that people have nothing to lose, then they have no stake in the very society that has sought, in essence, to KILL THEM. What do you think they will do in self-defense? As has been pointed out, they have only the ‘free-est market of all’ to turn to. The criminal market.

      Stop and think: what else is the goal behind this marginalization, that cuts off nearly all access to society’s (already frayed and tattered and threadbare) ‘safety net’? This is nothing less than de facto eliminationism. Not so much ethnic but a generic ‘cleansing’ of the ‘hive’, so to speak.

      Well, the targeted ‘lives not worth living’, as the guys with the swastikas used to say, aren’t going to be so accommodating…and if we have a total breakdown of the economy, courtesy of the interlocked nature of global finance and commerce – making what happens in Spain or Portugal or Ireland or Greece reverberate here – those who’ve been excluded for so long from society will have no stake in seeing that society continue. Take a guess what happens next.

      We don’t need to read dystopian science fiction to figure what happens next. We have history as our guide. A pity most Americans think history is something they make and ram down other people’s throats; then they might learn how to avoid what I fear may be coming.

      • divadab says:

        Not to mention systematically excluding the most creative elements in society in favor of promoting the most obedient and least imaginative. When society is controlled by its most obedient and least imaginative, it ceases to develop and evolve as conditions change, because all they can handle is what they already know.

        What a sad end to a great experiment that is the USA – these authoritarian idiots would destroy all that made America great in the first place. Fools that would kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

        • kaptinemo says:

          No argument from me. I can’t tell you how many times a few tokes unlocked a creative dam that had me stonkered; the left brain had to step aside and let the right brain drive, and then ding! the light bulb comes on and the final piece falls into place. And I kick myself mentally for not seeing it before.

          (And as someone who’s had some experience in neuromapping, the brainwave pattern really does resemble a light bulb going off.)

          Do that with alcohol? For some, a very few, perhaps it happens…but most wind up with brains a sodden mess incapable of any real original thought. And that, IMHO is why booze is lord and and cannabis the pauper in this ‘realm’. The ‘kings’ don’t want the ‘peasants’ to get any ideas…

      • Windy says:

        JFK said it best, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

  4. Peter says:

    In many ways the criminalization of individuals in perpetuity is a uniquely American aspect of the drug war. In Britain, where I have some experience of these matters, the drug war is still pursued by the authorities, but small amounts of drugs are usually treated with a fine or conditional discharge. After 7 years, convictions do not have to be declared under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act on an employment application (with the exception of teachers and those who work with children or vulnerable adults) giving “offenders” a second chance. The life-long stigmatization of drug offenders is much less of an issue in Britain and most other comparable countries.
    I can remember George Bush in his State of the Union address in 2004 declaring that “America is the land of second chance, and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.” Like much else that this man said, the reality is the direct opposite of what he proposed.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Peter, I would posit that a lot of the reason for such a more reasonable approach is simple: the UK doesn’t have as much cash to throw around as the US. That’s the only reason why.

      I would wager that there are many UK cops who want to act like ‘badasses’ and have as much ‘Mao-power” (as in that bloody butcher’s observation that “Power grows out of the barrel of a gun”) as their US counterparts, if only they had the budget.

      The same goes for Canadian cops, but with this damnable ‘harmonization’ going on behind the scenes, our Canuck cannabist cousins will soon find US-style drug laws – and policing methodologies – wreaking their civil liberties as it’s demolished ours.

      • kaptinemo says:

        And if it isn’t clear enough as to what’s happening and where this ‘harmonization” is going: Towards a North American Police State and Security Perimeter: US-Canada “Beyond the Border Agreement”

        Canadian cops enforcing US laws…on US soil. US cops enforcing US laws…on Canadian soil. Hmmmmm. Wait a minute! What’s missing here? Maybe…its’ Canadian laws ‘gone missing’? As in Canada being eliminated as a sovereign political entity?

        Canadians! My long-time friends! Mes amis! This is what Harper is up to, and why he doesn’t think much of your complaints about steadily eroding sovereignty (or complaints about anything else he does that you don’t like): that’s been the plan, all along. And if you don’t realize this in time, you can expect that sick old joke of Canada being the 51st State to become a tyrannical reality.

      • Peter says:

        However, they do seem to have enough credit to borrow the prison privatization concept from the US. Doesn’t bode well

  5. kaptinemo says:

    Obama and his goons are getting worried: Holder: DOJ only going after people ‘taking advantage’ of pot laws

    No, that’s not from last year. That’s today. Now.

    Care to hazard a guess why? Might be because of all those angry, politically-minded-and-motivated cannabists absolutely furious with the Obama Administration’s betrayal of his cannabis-friendly political base? Who are loudly making it known they are withdrawing their support from his campaign?

    They had their chance, and now they try to p*ss in our faces again and dare to repeat that that foul-smelling yellow stuff is sweet Aitch-Too-Oh from the heavens? Do they really, truly believe that we are as stupid as they evidently are proving themselves to be?

    I think the question answers itself, don’t you?

    • Peter says:

      Dammit, I’ve changed my phone number since I donated to Obama in 2008. I was looking forward to telling the earnest little campaigner exactly why i don’t be supporting him this year.

  6. divadab says:

    Cannabis prohibition is, IMHO, the result of a coalition of Monopoly capitalist interests (big cotton, pulp & paper, and alcohol) in league with elements that needed justification for a national secret police force made redundant when alcohol prohibition was repealed.

    Obama’s job was bought and paid for by these same monopoly capitalist interests, which basically control the federal government. He dances to their tune. And they don’t like cannabis or the people who promote it. They don;t like family farms. They don;t like small business. They don’t like free speech. They like obedient drones who are smacked down when they step out of line. They are the Tories who have overturned the Revolution in favor of an authoritarian regime. They serve the dark lord.

    • Peter says:

      i wonder what cj thinks of this?

    • darkcycle says:

      They killed my pain Doc’s practice already. And I can tell you from my personal experience, this guy was hardly a “pill mill”. He was literally so strict with my pain meds I stopped going because it wans’t really worth the expense. I’ve since stopped all pain medication but cannabis, but their going after him made me have to find a new cannabis Doc, since they weren’t going to give him back his prescriptive powers until he stopped writing recs. He was a good Doc, who though stingy, understood and never condescended.

    • TieHash says:

      Just another example of some of the many harms that prohibition causes. Depressing to know that more lives will be ruined daily as the wheels of government and democracy move slowly…to slowly.

    • Francis says:

      Michele Leonhart when asked to comment: “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of heroin addiction we’re seeing is a sign of success in the fight against prescription painkiller abuse.”

    • Anyone who bothers to consult the SAS figures can see that the percentage of the population in treatment for substance abuse problems has remained virtually unchanged since at least 1992.

      Alcohol and cocaine have seen big drops in their popularity as drugs of abuse. Marijuana, amphetamines, heroin, and prescription opiates have taken up the slack.

      (Obviously, these figures are an imperfect proxy as numerous non-addicts are forced into court-ordered treatment, but I imagine they give a reasonable snapshot of current levels of severe dependency.)

      For anyone who’s not familiar with the SAS data tables, you can find them here (final four characters before “.htm” indicate state and year):

  7. Duncan20903 says:

    What is it with British “researchers”?

  8. Duncan20903 says:


    Willie Nelson and friends performing “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die at the CMT Music Awards ceremony. Neither Mr. Obama nor Mr. Romney were included in the song’s performance.

    I think I heard someone say that his friends are a bunch of big shots in the country music biz.

    Is that a popular daytime game show host sitting in the audience?

    Afterward Merle Haggard went on stage and sang “Damn Right We Smoke Marijuana in Muskogee” (yes fooling)

    Willie Nelson “marijuana song” high point of CMT bash
    June 07, 2012
    by Sara McGinnis

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      Once heard Merle say, about the Muskogee song, “that’s the only place we don’t smoke it!”

      His new album apparently has a new song about “Humboldt marijuana, guaranteed to make you cough,” but I haven’t heard it yet.

  9. darkcycle says:

    O/T, but Kap’n, you should see this. Duncan, you may also be interested.
    (see! I used my brand new ability to create a “tiny URL” so I won’t clutter up the conversation with a whole bunch of superfluous characters like I just did telling you all about it. Aren’t you all pleased at my to the point brevity? Yes? I see nods of approval…)

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Not really. It’s as absurd as the prohibitionist claim that no sales tax can be collected on regulated cannabis sales despite the fact that the Dutch have been doing it for decades. In this case, the Japanese have been at real 0% interest rates for over 2 decades, and their debt:GDP ratio is still significantly larger than ours.

      It’s laughably absurd to claim that something that has been (is being) done is not possible.

      We survived the S& crisis, this too shall pass. Buy some foreclosures.

      • darkcycle says:

        Sure as hell hope you’re right, Duncan, for everyone’s sake.

      • kaptinemo says:

        I wish that I could be so confident. But I tend to see where this might lead…and so does Uncle sam.

        I’ve said many times before that the DrugWar has been a convenient excuse for government to do things it would normally be prevented from doing Constitutionally. The militarization of police was not really, truly based on the idea that big, bad drug dealers would drive drug-proceed-purchased surplus Soviet tanks down Main Street USA and shoot up the poor, near defenseless, outgunned poh-leece…but that’s how it was sold to the public. To make what happened next, a Constitutionally-illegal move…‘legal’.

        Nope, what’s been happening has been happening because it was figured out long ago in the early 1970’s by the Powers That Be that the Three Card Monte game run by the Federal Reserve would someday collapse, with horrendous social consequences (even worse than what we are presently experiencing)…and ‘continuity of government’ always means ‘continuity of the financial powers behind the government’.

        Militarizing the police to act as a kind of Stasi to keep the hoi polloi ‘in their place’ and protect those very same PTB when the brown smelly stuff hits the ventilator is the REAL reason for the militarization. The fact that the financial big players on Wall Street donated millions to the NYPD to create a ‘command center’ where those who made the investments give orders to police in their assaults on the #OWS people was the proof.

        The Oligarchy is preparing for fiscal and social Armageddon (and a few of the lesser players are bugging out to distant places like New Zealand, to hole up and ride out the coming storm), and it behooves us to ‘look behind the curtain’ that has ‘DrugWar’ stenciled on it to see the actual motivation. And make our own plans.

        • kaptinemo says:

          I would also invite the curious to read the works of Dr. Ravi Batra, who has been predicting precisely the same kind of economic catastrophe that we are only just beginning to enter into…for the past 20+ years.

          Back in the late 1980’s, after having witnessed the (wholly predictable) S & L crisis and the 1987 stock market crash, he warned that the financial sector had NOT learned its’ lessons, and would only repeat its’ mistakes again, with even worse consequences.

          If you’re old enough, you’ll recall there was (and should be!) concerns about the numerous ‘corporate mergers’ taking place back then. That allowed for increasing concentrations of wealth…and also increasing lack of resilience to an economy becoming over-centralized to the point where a single mistake on a single player’s part can bring down the entire structure.

          According to Batra, increasing concentrations of wealth in the hands of an increasingly smaller – and rapaciously greedy – Elite would have devastating consequences when their venality and arrogance got the better of them, and they initiate the inevitable financial crisis.

          Look around you. We’re living his prediction. It’s happened…and according to Batra, this is just the beginning.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          kaptinemo, this behavior has been going on for centuries. It started very shortly after the establishment of markets larger than mostly localized where the town blacksmith was the richest person who was not royalty in town.

          Google: “South Sea Company” +bubble
          or Google: “tulip mania” for more details.

          If you’re interested in a book that examines the phenomenon Extraordinary Popular Delusions & the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackey is an excellent read.

          The 1987 crash was purely mechanical, and in the end analysis it was a stunning and total non-event. Any analysis that attempts to attach economic meaning to that event is correctly disregarded as laughably absurd. “Black Monday” was purely the result of an unanticipated feedback loop caused by program trading. The problem was quickly resolved and just isn’t likely to be repeated. BTW, the S&P 500 ended 1987 up 2.028%.

          There’s absolutely no way a rational analysis can conclude that this Country’s finances are in worse shape than they were in the 1970s.

          There’s absolutely no way a rational analysis can conclude that this Country has suffered a calamity approaching that of the crash of the Japanese financial markets in the early 1990s. Also consider that when the Japanese markets crashed they were in uncharted territory as far as successfully mitigating the consequences. In addition to the fact that our financial catastrophe was nothing more than a spumescent big wave compared to the Japanese financial tsunami we’re not in uncharted territory because the Japanese have provided charts.

          I often mention how the first time I heard the lame excuse that we can’t re-legalize because we don’t have a “pot breathalyzer” was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter had included decriminalization of petty possession in his campaign platform. Well my friend, I’ve been hearing about the imminent collapse of the American financial system for equally as long and read treatises similar to those which you have presented, all of which have seemingly made compelling cases that have never come to pass. You’ll have to excuse me from participating in the panic caused by Mr. Batra’s Chicken Littleisms. His case simply requires one to ignore the self correcting nature of our system and the fact that people like him have been wrong, wrong, wrong for decades and decades. Perhaps I can afford to be sanguine because I’m not dependent on the system and am much more likely to be on the winning side than the losing side in the extremely unlikely event of a systemic meltdown. It really is a choice we all make, and I must admit I’m clueless as to why most people decide to be (financial) losers. It’s certainly not like I’m some kind of flippin’ genius or was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.

        • darkcycle says:

          Duncan, I’m inclined to believe in the inherent stability of this economy, and I would likely still be poo-pooing these doomsayers if not for some strong evidence that points the other way. The situation we find ourselves in is orders of magnitude worse that during the S&L crisis. Plus, the systemic problems that led to the criminal behavior by the S&L’s were subsequently corrected, and the criminals who took advantage were prosecuted and jailed. The piece I originally linked to expounded on WHY it is in this case these systemic problems are not being correctd, and it goes into just how easily the current artificial situation MIGHT unravel. It also illustrates that the real harm to the economy has been disguised and put off by manipulating the commodities markets and continued derivatives witchcraft. The problem has grown since the “collapse”, not shrunk and there are feet still out there waiting to drop.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          Round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows. Place your bets ladies and gentlemen, it’s the way of all financial markets. Some will bet on fear, and others on greed. To date greed has always won in the end, but I admit that you never know when you’re going to stumble over a black swan. Kreskin I ain’t, but my money’s on greed.
          The King is dead, long live the bear! But please don’t bite the bear because the bear bites back.

        • kaptinemo says:

          Duncan, I am well aware of the historic ‘fads’ regarding certain economic ‘blips’ in history, but few of them have had the potential to affect economic systems globally as has the latest ‘liquidity’ crisis.

          Particularly with bankster ‘Helicopter Ben’ Bernanke having secretly, behind the backs of Congress and the American people, even before the recent QE2 (which instantly devalued all savings by 20%), had Treasury print trillions of Federal Reserve Notes and sent them to his equally crooked bankster buddies in the Eurrozone to prop them up.

          Which is why the rising Asian economies are seeking to exit the dollar and replace it with a ‘basket’ of currencies less volatile. If more countries do that, the dollar will no longer be the currency that serves as the world’s reserve, and the result is that this government will have no choice left but the coup de grace of total currency debauchery, a.k.a ‘hyperinflation’.

          Currency debauchery is usually the penultimate step towards total economic collapse. What will trigger that may be a single PIIG country defaulting, triggering a series of dominoes that will eventually lead back here…which was the epicenter, anyway. When that happens, you’ll see what Uncle Sam has in mind for ‘his’ ‘citizens’: REX84 and Executive Order 11490, in spades.

          I am not so much concerned about the mechanism that triggers it all; given the nature of the past 3 Adminstrations, given the propensity for corruption and power-grabbing as evinced by the lamentably-named PATRIOT Act, given the PNAC people and their desire for a ‘new Pearl Harbor’ and now or a war with Iran, etc. I fully expect the trigger to be either another war or the aforementioned final phase of the meltdown. In any case, we’re headed for the hurt locker, big time.

    • strayan says:

      You can also go to to shorten links using google.

  10. Windy says:

    Have any of you seen Scott Morgan’s latest post on Huff Po?

    • I like Scott. He is so right on. This is THE item right now.

      I think I hear squealing in the background.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      I found this quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson in the comments:

      Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”
      ~~ Thomas Jefferson

  11. Classmates: Mitt Romney Impersonated Police Officer In High School And College

    Mitt Romney Patrols the Beach Near His House for Pot Smokers | AlterNet

    Not much here to look forward to.

  12. 515 says:

    Wow, superb weblog layout! How lengthy have you been blogging for? you made running a blog look easy. The whole look of your site is fantastic, let alone the content material!

  13. Duncan20903 says:


    So I was at the grocer’s shopping and perusing the selections of prepackaged sausage when I noticed that Eckrich offers a variety that they call “classic smoked rope.” Perhaps not news to most. I’ve never been a fan of sausage until recently so it’s new to me. So what’s for dinner? Pot pies with stoned wheat thins and a nice classic rope to smoke, no doubt.

  14. Servetus says:

    “More teens smoke pot than cigarettes, says CDC survey”

    This is good news for health conscious Americans. The more younger smokers substituting marijuana over evil big tobacco, the better — as long as they don’t get categorized as criminals for their healthier recreational pursuits.

  15. Servetus says:

    In an interview with Cali Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Oliver Stone talks about his new movie, called Savages :

    From the header, “Stone’s new movie Savages is going to be a doozy. Stone, explaining both the movie’s plot and his opposition to the drug war starts out with the genesis of the film: “We have the best weed in the world—I’m telling you that from my own experience for 40 years,” he tells California’s Lt. Governor. “We started on Vietnamese weed, Thai weed, Jamaican weed, Sudanese weed and it was all great stuff. But now, actually, because Americans are so technically-minded and mad chemists—they have really taken the Afghan seeds from the Afghan war—that’s the hypothesis of our movie—and brought them to California, rededicated themselves and made the finest seeds in the world, the finest grass you could smoke.”

  16. Duncan20903 says:

    Back to the actual thread topic, and from the “there’s more than one way to write a headline” category:

    Racist Searches and Drug Arrests Fine With New York GOP

    by Scott Lemieux
    June 8, 2012

    The governor is proposing decriminalizing the public possession of small amounts of marijuana, but don’t expect the legislation to get past state Republicans.

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