Violent Crimes Undercut Marijuana's Mellow Image

Violent Crimes Undercut Marijuana's Mellow Image
Posted by FoM on May 19, 2001 at 08:57:05 PT
By Kevin Flynn
Source: New York Times
Police officials in New York City, who spent years battling a crack scourge that sent the murder rate soaring, say they are now seeing increasing violence among dealers of marijuana, a drug that they say no longer fits its laid-back image.The level of violence still pales in comparison to the carnage of the turf wars between rival crack gangs a decade ago. But officials say they believe that the number of marijuana-related shootings has gone up in recent years and that investigators now routinely find guns, including submachine guns, when they execute search warrants at marijuana stash houses.
In one widely publicized example of violence, a 39-year-old woman, Jennifer Stahl, was fatally shot, along with two friends, nine days ago in her apartment above the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan. She was a victim of two men who, investigators believe, came to rob her of the cash profits from her high-priced marijuana business.But many other peddlers, most of them selling cheaper marijuana in poorer neighborhoods, have been shot over the last few years, police officials say, although many of those crimes drew little attention, even when the dealers died.Two weeks ago, for example, Roberto DeJesus, 20, who had been arrested a half-dozen times on marijuana-related charges, was fatally shot in the Bronx after what investigators described as a dispute with a rival dealer over the rights to sell on a particular stretch of Valentine Avenue."Some people may think the drug is benign, but the distribution network certainly is not," said Deputy Chief Michael Tiffany, commander of the Bronx Narcotics Division. "For some of our policy makers, people who are not cops, sometimes their only connection to marijuana was watching the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East. Times have changed. None of the dealers in the Bronx are smoking joints and discussing Nietzsche."New York City does not keep statistics on marijuana-related violence, so it is unclear how much the number of violent incidents has grown, or to what extent marijuana- related violence has become more visible simply because the gunfire from the crack trade has dissipated. For their part, officials in the Drug Enforcement Administration said they had not collected sufficient information to say that marijuana trafficking nationwide is more violent. But New York officials, both police supervisors and prosecutors, said the trend was clear."The marijuana trade in New York City is controlled and run through the use of violence," Joseph P. Dunne, the first deputy police commissioner, said at a City Hall news conference last week. "We have been saying this for some time. This is not news to us." Bridget G. Brennan, the city's special narcotics prosecutor, said that highly organized, well-armed groups that once concentrated on the cross- continent shipment of cocaine and heroin were now dealing in marijuana as well. Similarly, Bronx narcotics investigators said that they had identified eight separate heroin or cocaine trafficking locations in the borough that had switched over to marijuana sales in the last year.One impetus for the switch, officials said, is that newer, increasingly potent strains of marijuana are now selling at prices that are higher than the price of gold. The demand for crack cocaine has also shrunk, and the penalties for cocaine trafficking remain far more severe than those for dealing in marijuana.For example, under New York law, a person convicted of possessing 10 pounds of high-grade marijuana, with a potential street value of as much as $50,000, is liable for the same prison term as a person caught with $120 worth of cocaine.At the time the laws were drawn up, the street value of 10 pounds of some kinds of high-grade marijuana was far less than it is today.Although increased anti-narcotics patrols, largely financed through an overtime program known as Operation Condor, have produced a flood of misdemeanor marijuana arrests, investigators said that dealers caught selling the $5 and $10 bags that are typically sold on the streets were rarely sent to jail for any length of time. As a result, they said, none of them are particularly interested in briefing detectives on the intricacies of their drug gangs.Although national surveys indicate that marijuana use among the young has leveled off in recent years, state and city officials and substance abuse counselors said that demand in New York City remained quite high, as indicated by the large amount of marijuana circulating in the streets.The police seized 15,520 pounds last year, or triple the amount seized five years ago.In some cases, officials said, the market for marijuana has benefited from the fact that many young people are loath to repeat the mistakes of their crack-addicted elders. "They disdain crack use partly because of the results they see all around them," said Ms. Brennan, the special prosecutor.The price increases have been least noticeable in the lower grades of marijuana, many of them smuggled in from Mexico and sold for $100 to $200 an ounce. In many neighborhoods, they are often sold under street names like Chronic or Chocolate and are smoked, not in rolling papers, but in hollowed-out cigars known as blunts. Investigators said that one change in recent years has been in the quantity of marijuana delivered in a so-called nickel bag that sells for $5."It's like the potato chip companies," said Lt. Charles Shevlin of the Narcotics Division. "They kept the price the same but they made the bag smaller."The real escalation in prices drawing dealers into the market has been in high-grade varieties of marijuana, in which ounces typically sell for $300 to $600, officials said. Unlike years ago, when high-priced marijuana generally was smuggled in from exotic places, much of the most potent crops are now grown domestically, not in outdoor fields, but in indoor farms that use hydroponic technology, in which the marijuana is cultivated in water and liquid nutrients. "I know people," said a veteran marijuana smoker from Manhattan, "who when they go to Jamaica they bring their pot with them because we want better pot while we are there."This increase in potency is one reason that high-end strains have become so expensive. Experts said they had more than triple the potency of regular marijuana, although activists for the legalization of the drug say that the strength of run-of- the-mill marijuana has not increased remarkably in recent years.Another reason for the price increase, according to Allen F. St. Pierre, the executive director of Norml, which advocates the legalization of marijuana, is that some dealers have learned that a product marketed as the best can often command almost any price. He recalled being at an Upper West Side apartment several months ago when a dealer, who ran a beeper-based delivery service, explained why one variety of marijuana was priced at $500 per ounce. "That is for people who need to pay that much for it," he recalled the dealer saying.This sort of high-grade marijuana, often sold under names like Hydro or Bubble Gum, was among the types sold by Ms. Stahl in her apartment on Seventh Avenue for several years before the gunmen barged in, killing her and two of her friends. "People who view marijuana peddling as victimless have not seen the carnage left in the apartment above the Carnegie Deli," said Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik.But Mr. St. Pierre said that the government bore at least partial responsibility for any increase in violence, because it had made the laws that created a black market. "It should not be too big of a surprise," he said, "that when a product is pushed to such a valuable level that we lose the social controls."Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Kevin FlynnPublished: May 19, 2001Copyright: 2001 The New York Times Company Contact: letters Website: Forum: Related Articles & Web Site:NORML Modern Prohibition Fails Us Year in the Life of Pot Prohibition
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on May 22, 2001 at 17:42:07 PT
Ganja Woman - Village Voice
Hi everyone, I didn't feel comfortable posting the story about Jennifer Stahl out of respect. I think how would her family feel. Here is the link for those of you that would like to read it. Very sad.Source: Village Voice (NY)Published: Week of May 23 - 29, 2001Copyright: 2001 VV Publishing CorporationContact: editor villagevoice.comWebsite: Jennifer Stahl Ran an Admirable Pot Businessby A Village Voice Writer
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Comment #15 posted by freedom fighter on May 21, 2001 at 11:22:17 PT
WE Control YOU!
 "It should not be too big of a surprise," he said, "that when a product is pushed to such a valuable level that we lose the social controls."What social control? 420 rules6000 years80 years of foolishness1000's of dead bodies..Some social control.If only the substance is legal, would there be some kind of social control better than what we have now?By just publishing the article above, NYTimes have promoted the violence.
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Comment #14 posted by Kevin Hebert on May 21, 2001 at 10:07:21 PT:
My response to the NY Times
Send a letter to letters on this one; it's a really stupid article.--Dear Editors:Kevin Flynn's "Violent Crimes Undercut Marijuana's Mellow Image" exposes violence in the marijuana trade.The article makes it seem as if violence and marijuana go hand in hand. This is in no way correct.The only reason why any violence attends the sale and distribution of marijuana is because it is illegal. The violence associated with Al Capone's Chicago in the 1920's and crack dealing in the 1980's had less to do with drugs and more to do with their illegality.We need to legalize and regulate marijuana. No one should lose their life because criminals run the marijuana industry. You may feel that allowing adults to use a harmless, mildly intoxicating herb in the privacy of theirown home sends "the wrong message to the children." But it's a far better to send a message than it is to be shot and killed because of this nation's drug laws.                Sincerely,                Kevin M. Hebert
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Comment #13 posted by Dan B on May 20, 2001 at 14:10:26 PT:
Great Letter, Wades
Just wanted to say that I think you hammered that one squarely on the head. Good writing.Dan B
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Comment #12 posted by wades on May 20, 2001 at 09:33:54 PT:
To the editors:Kevin Flynn's May 19 article, "Violent Crimes Undercut Marijuana's Mellow Image" reads like a PR piece for the NYPD's Narcotics Division. Just as the illegality of the crack market, rather thanthe pharmacology of cocaine, was the cause of the crack wars of the1980's, so it is that Operation Condor has succeeded in driving outthe nonviolent cannabis dealers to whom Officer Tiffany so sneeringly refers to as Nietzsche readers.If it is true that police are now often finding pot dealers armedlike FARC guerillas, we have only Prohibition to blame. When the State allows the cannabis markets to be regulated by some mechanismother than raw violence this problem will take care of itself.
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Comment #11 posted by jacksplace58 on May 20, 2001 at 05:14:01 PT
dead is dead
Think about it folks,... these people were killed for a weed that will grow just about anywhere.Thats the real crime here,
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Comment #10 posted by observer on May 19, 2001 at 17:39:52 PT
Hasheesh goads users to blood lust!
violence among dealers of marijuana ... marijuana-related violenceIt is much worse than that.1910: “Marihuana is the most frightening and vicious drug ever to hit New Orleans.” —New Orleans Public Safety Commission1920s: “Makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” —H.J. Anslinger, Bureau of Narcotics1930: “Marihuana is responsible for the raping of white women by crazed negroes.” —Hearst Newspapers Nationwide1932: “Hasheesh goads users to blood lust.” —Hearst Newspapers1935: “Marihuana influenced negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows, and look at a white woman twice.” —Hearst Newspapers1937: “Marihuana is the most violent drug in the history of mankind.” —Congressional Testimony, H.J. Anslinger, FBN1938: “Marihuana is more dangerous than heroin or cocaine.” —Anslinger, Scientific American, May, 19381938: “If the hideous monster of Frankenstein came face to face with marihuana, he would drop dead of fright.” —Anslinger, FBN, quoted in Hearst newspaper1945: “More harmful than habit-forming opium, inducing fits of temporary insanity.” —Newsweek, 1-15-451946: “Marihuana is an important cause of crime.” —Bureau of Narcotics, Newsweek, 11-18-46etc.from Very serious, indeed.None of the dealers in the Bronx are smoking joints and discussing Nietzsche.The narc's a regular comedian. I bet Al Capone wasn't one to quote Jefferson, either.
On The Trail Of Marijuana, The Weed Of Madness
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Comment #9 posted by aocp on May 19, 2001 at 13:54:19 PT
Police officials in New York City, who spent years battling a crack scourge that sent the murder rate soaring, say they are now seeing increasing violence among dealers of marijuana, a drug that they say no longer fits its laid-back image.(a) their battling didn't have anything to do with the soaring murder rate, now did it? Of course not! They're the 'good guys'.(b) violence among dealers of MJ (a black market enterprise here, Einstein)(c) does MJ go out and shoot F-ing people?!? I think not. So, i'd say that it does fit a laid-back image. Gawd, all this crap came in the FIRST SENTENCE"Some people may think the drug is benign, but the distribution network certainly is not," said Deputy Chief Michael Tiffany, commander of the Bronx Narcotics Division.Save it, buffoon. You're mixing the message intentially. There are two messages here:(a) Off. Tiffany (that's just FUNNY!) does not deny that MJ is benign, but he tries to cover for himself by(b) indicating that the distribution network is inherently dangerous (b/c that's the def'n of black markets, that he and his FIGHT TO KEEP AROUND, DAMMIT!!! Somedays, antis are our best friends, ya know?"The marijuana trade in New York City is controlled and run through the use of violence," Joseph P. Dunne, the first deputy police commissioner, said at a City Hall news conference last week. "We have been saying this for some time. This is not news to us."WOOOO-OOOOOWWWWW!!! Didja all catch that? Lemme paraphrase: "We say MJ is controlled through violence that must be countered immediately, sans rational thought. What's our evidence that not even the dea has? Uhhh, we said so." Now that's gall, my friends.
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Comment #8 posted by jAHn on May 19, 2001 at 12:34:10 PT
I love your words, pot-people!!!
 I wanted to make the point that this article missed about Violence and how embedded it is into the FCC's TV! All over the toob, there are ThOUSANDS of people that are hurting themselves JUST to be on film!?! Some of these people do it for the thrill that comes from Sky-Diving or Speed-Racing a gasoline-charged Automobile!?!  How much more can a culture FLIRT with danger??What gets me is...How come this TV and all of the people accepting the cash windfall from it can't Speak the hell up about Cannabis and its' ability to alleviate some TERRIFYING experiences that the Fatally Ill and Critically Sick have to endure??? Oh well...((here's the mentality of the "humans" buying Coca-Cola, eating Doritos and Tacos from Taco Bell in their Lexus or BMW on their way to wiping their arses with NON-TREE-FREE-TP in the bathroom of their pampered Sub-Urban housing neighborhoods inquick enough time to watch some Seinfeld, or Tom Hee-Haw-Bro-Kaw on a Machine that Disenfranchised Humanity since DAY FU**ING ONE-at 6 and 11pm--That Damned TV!!)) Oh well, i don't see much change, as always. Prohibition is such a Promising career! These people don't have to be held to ANY standards, huh. They just murder and murder and murder.  You don't pay much attention if you believe that this is some cheesey exaggeration  I don't feel like ANYONE of us could stress how Violent this So-Called-Society's just the way that it's. 
National Organization Reforming Marijuana Laws
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Comment #7 posted by Imprint on May 19, 2001 at 11:54:07 PT
Money makes the drug war goa-round
Looks to me like NY would like the penalties to go up for the sale and use of marijuana. Pretty sneaky; this means that when someone gets busted for pot the amount of money they are forced to give the drug war industry will increase thus decreasing the need to go to the public coffers to fund their war. It’s pretty obvious that pot prices will go up. Take something so prevalent and make it harder to get and the price goes up (duh). One doesn’t have to think too hard about this; take the energy crisis for example. Take a few power plants off line for maintenance(?) and wham there is a shortage and then the price goes up. Also, I don’t get this potency argument. I have enjoyed high-grade pot for over 30 years. Yes, there is crappy weed out there but the potent stuff has always been around. For the folks I know who grow pot, the potency is given. The real advancements have been in yield. In other words, getting a plant to produce as much as possible in the shortest amount of time. This is why indoor growing is so desirable. Indoors they can clone, control the length of day light hours, supply nutrients directly to the root system (hydroponics) and supply abnormal amounts of nitrogen to the leafs. Combine these things in the right controlled order and you have plants that are always female, vigorous growing, large and a growing season of four months or less. Also, storage is a big deal. Dried pot must be stored properly to maintain its potency. Take the best pot in the world and store it in crappy conditions and in no time at all it will become ragweed. Pot smokers and growers know this and have made adjustments to care for there pot. I think this is the main reason the government thinks pot is more potent. They confiscate pot that has been well taken care of and assume there is some genetic mutation going on out there. Finally I would like to mention “Politically Incorrect”. Last nights show was very cool. Bill Mahr opened with a great talk about the Supreme Court and their decision on medical marijuana. He really knows how to get to the heart of the matter. I salute him, this is one of the few national voices we have. 
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on May 19, 2001 at 10:44:37 PT:
Karma is right
I had to chuckle when I saw Dan's comment about Mr. Giuliani.A man whose police force went out of its' way to harrass and injure cannabis activists during the Million Marijuana March refuses to use the one thing guranateed to still his nausea and let him relax and eat. Which he needs to do in order to survive.In the past, I've posted the fact that the cancer rate amongst the US population is rising. Meaning, of course, that more people will hear that dreaded word directed at them. Which in turn means that, someday, they will desperately need what some of them, in their ignorance and sheer spite, have denied others so afficted.Not too long ago, in another posting of an article, Giuliani had publicly despaired that his police bodyguards were unable to catch some cannabis consumers his nose had detected. They had run off before Rudy's Chillun-in-Blue could snag them.I wonder now whether, given his condition, Rudy was publicly lamenting the lost opportunity of relieving the unfortunate citizens of their cannabis and secretly using it himself to stem the nausea.Given his behavior these last few years, it wouldn't surprise me at all.Instant karma, indeed.
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Comment #5 posted by Dan B on May 19, 2001 at 10:28:25 PT:
Okay, we aren't actually speaking . . .
I realized that my sentence beginning with "As we speak . . ." is awfully funny, given that we aren't speaking--I was just writing. Just thought I'd shar my little chuckle at myself with the rest of you.Thanks for sharing this, FoM. I saw the headline today in my e-mail headlines from the NYT, and I was going to request that you post it. It's good for everyone to see that the propaganda mill is alive and well, even though its arguments are moth-bitten and threadbare.Dan B
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Comment #4 posted by Dan B on May 19, 2001 at 10:23:40 PT:
Instant Karma's Gonna Get You
Some people may think the drug is benign, but the distribution network certainly is not.Precisely. Think about that, Officer Jackboot. The drug is benign, but the black market that your polices created is killing people. What the New York Times failed to report in this debacle of an article is that the people who were killed were not the aggressors. The aggressors are members of established organized crime rings in New York who are capitalizing on the violence already being spread by Mayor Guiliani's henchmen in blue. As we speak, Mayor Giuliani is puking his guts out from chemotherapy used to combat his prostate cancer. He refuses to use marijuana because that would "send the wrong message to children" and would prove him a hypocrite when juxtaposed against his record of 60,000 marijuana arrests each year in his city. You reap what you sow, Mayor Giulianni. That includes reaping violence where you have sown violence, and that includes reaping the ills you have visited upon others with your insane, maniacal war on marijuana.Dan B
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 19, 2001 at 10:13:36 PT
Your Welcome m segesta 
It's the cost that causes the crime not the plant. Fear of jail etc. My favorite fun movie of all times is Dirty Dancing. I've watched it too many times to even count and when I heard that one of the people murdered was in Dirty Dancing I figured out who it was and it really made me feel sad because of how much I loved that movie. I posted this because of it being front page news on the New York Times but that's about the only reason.
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Comment #2 posted by kaptinemo on May 19, 2001 at 10:01:34 PT:
They are missing the point...habitually, now
Think of it as evolution in action.The nice, peaceable Mom and Pop cannabis dealers are squeezed out by the violent dealers because the very nature of prohibition causes the more violent and ambitious to expand and destroy the less so. And the police profess to some kind of wilfull blindness about the cause. And the NYT, true to its' nature, is strung along like a puppy on a leash, and never asks the relevent questions.Questions like: "Does cannabis itself result in violence, or does it's illegality cause the carnage? Does the drug's legal status invite literally cutthroat competition in the black market? Are the (much less!) dangerous Mom-and-Pop dealers being forced out or eliminated by much more ambitious - and murderously inclined - members of organized crime?"When the NYT starts behaving like a true journalistic outlet again instead of a branch of the NYPD's PR section, then I'll stop laughing at it's pretense of being the paper it used to be.
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Comment #1 posted by m segesta on May 19, 2001 at 09:30:51 PT:
NYT covers anti's PR (with malodorous effluvium)
How disappointing that America's "Newspaper of Record" is printing its usual effluvia SO SOON AFTER our side came off smelling like a rose after the Supremes dissed us majorly, while the antis (esp. those in Congress) clearly took a big PR hit and came off looking about as compassionate as Hitler. I am so dismayed that the Times -- whose readers typically must be, at least, if not more, intelligent and well-informed, than the average media consuming public -- can get away with this transparent attempt to "repair" any ostensible damage to the anti's PR without response!How do they do it? I, too, would like to have the "Superpowers" of denying or negating reality, and I would not mind something like "X-ray" vision or the ability to fly as well!FoM -- Thanks again for running this wonderful website that is, in contrast to marijuana, highly addictive -- at least for me. It's the first or second thing I read every morning, before I read the Times even.
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