Misguided Laws Make Marijuana Deadly 

Misguided Laws Make Marijuana Deadly 
Posted by FoM on May 22, 2001 at 21:35:01 PT
By Judy Mann
Source: Washington Post
Three people were killed and two were wounded in a $4,000-a-month apartment five stories above New York's Runyonesque Carnegie Deli two weeks ago. Among the dead was Jennifer Stahl, who had a bit part in the film "Dirty Dancing." Her acting career never came to much, and she turned to singing. And selling marijuana.That's what got her killed. According to news accounts, Stahl was entertaining four guests who had nothing to do with drug trading. 
Her apartment buzzer sounded, she opened the door, and one of her guests heard her say: "Sean, what are you doing here today?" There were two men. Both carried handguns. One of the men took Stahl into a recording studio she had in the apartment; the other started binding two of her guests' hands and feet with duct tape. Stahl was heard pleading with her assailant: "Take the drugs. Take the money. Don't hurt anybody." Then there was a single shot. Two more of Stahl's guests emerged from another room, and they were ordered to get down on the floor. They were bound. Like Stahl, the four guests were shot in the head. Two survived.When police arrived, they found six pounds of marijuana, with a street value of $60,000, along with what authorities identified as psychedelic mushrooms, and $1,800 in cash. Behind the apartment's front door was a sign listing a half-dozen varieties of marijuana with prices ranging from $300 to $600 an ounce. Police believe that the motive behind the crime was robbery and that the men left with a backpack containing marijuana.This incident should lay to rest the myth that the marijuana trade is nonviolent. It is corrupting police departments. Eventually, it could corrupt our political system, as it has political systems in Latin America. Drug dealers have an enormous stake in keeping their products illegal and, therefore, desirable in this country.Bridget Brennan, New York City's special narcotics prosecutor, describes marijuana as a "highly profitable drug." She notes that money is the source of most drug disputes and that the parties involved can't turn to the courts to settle their arguments. And she warns that the cartels moving marijuana are made up of some of the same people who are moving heroin and cocaine.Marijuana itself does not induce violence. People don't smoke a joint and decide to shoot somebody. What produces the violence associated with marijuana is that it is illegal. The same dynamic caused the murderous Capone-style violence during Prohibition. And once Prohibition was repealed, the violence associated with the bootleg trade vanished, although the gangsters that it spawned did not. Before any sensible discussion can take place about how to deal with illegal drugs in the United States, we must make the distinction between violence associated with a drug and violence associated with the drug trade.Further, for any sensible discussion about what to do about illegal drugs, you have to discuss different drugs separately. They are not all of a piece. Heroin and cocaine are far more addictive than marijuana, for example. You can overdose and die on heroin. You can overdose and die from alcohol poisoning. You smoke too much marijuana, and the worst thing that can happen to you is you'll fall asleep and maybe set the couch afire. So let's take marijuana separately. Its illegality and its soaring cost are causing an astonishing level of violence in our society. The day after the triple slaying, New York's first deputy police commissioner, Joseph Dunne, told reporters: "We've been saying this for eight years: There are guns and violence in the marijuana trade."One argument for prohibiting marijuana is that you don't want young people to get it. We don't want them to get alcohol, either. One is legal; the other is not. Alcohol, the legal drug, is much more heavily associated with violent behavior than is marijuana. "Nobody pretends we're going to get rid of these drugs," says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. "So one of the stated policies is we can make them more expensive and fewer people will use them. There's no evidence that's the way it works in drug markets. Sometimes a high price enhances the attraction. Prohibition efforts in the last 20 years have entirely failed to affect the price of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. They are cheaper and purer than at any time in the last 30 years."He notes studies that have found that 80 percent of high school seniors said they could easily obtain marijuana. High school kids tell you it is easier to get pot than alcohol.Nadelmann believes marijuana should be "taken out of the drug prohibition system." He says polls show that about 35 percent of people say yes to decriminalizing it and 25 to 30 percent say yes to legalizing it. But when you ask people whether they want to tax and regulate marijuana -- and educate people about it -- as part of legalization, support can rise to 40 percent. He's found support for legalizing marijuana among police, prosecutors and conservative drug treatment programs.About 700,000 people were arrested in the United States on marijuana charges last year, 85 percent for possession, he says. Those arrests account for half of the arrests in the drug war.If marijuana were legalized, we would save billions we spend now on the criminal justice system. If it were taxed, regulated and sold like alcohol, that would generate legal income for governments. If it were controlled and sold legally, the price would be reasonable. High profits associated with marijuana's illegality would vanish, and so would the violence, just as it did when Prohibition ended.How many more killings will it take before we understand that?Source: Washington Post (DC) Author: Judy MannPublished: Wednesday, May 23, 2001; Page C15 Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: http://www.washingtonpost.comRelated Articles & Web Site:TLC - DPF Crimes Undercut Marijuana's Mellow Image Woman - The Village Voice
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Comment #10 posted by Jeaneous on May 23, 2001 at 19:33:30 PT:
If you make it legal nobody will have to commit a crime to get it. Pretty simple. Prohibition killed these people just the same as the two in Peru.
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Comment #9 posted by Kevin Hebert on May 23, 2001 at 13:55:31 PT:
Do My Eyes Deceive Me?
THIS, in the Washington Post? Unbelievable. I used to live the Post when I lived in DC but I always read it knowing that the stories they printed weren't "the whole story." And their take on drugs couldn't be more backwards.... but still. Today's article is The Truth for all to see. Even the folks in Congress read the Post. This was a nice thing to see today, for sure.
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Comment #8 posted by Dan B on May 23, 2001 at 07:43:53 PT:
About Judy Mann
Judy Mann has consistently written excellent commentary on the war on some drugs. She is, in fact, one of the Washington Post's greatest assests in terms of drug war reporting, as far as I can tell. Here is a list of her other articles that have appeared on Cannabis News:!Dan B
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Comment #7 posted by greenfox on May 23, 2001 at 07:05:37 PT
Reality unimportant. 
Hey all, I know the story itself is kind of crazy. But I tell you what, to read this sort of thing in the WP? That's something to shout about. The usually very conservative WP sounding off with an article like this?It's unlike them. We'll have to see where they are taking this, but more importantly, WHY.Oh well. sly in green, foxy in kind....-greenfox
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Comment #6 posted by dddd on May 23, 2001 at 06:15:22 PT
Exactly right Matlock.....This was no robbery,,,this was somekinda mafioso hit type thing.......To say this incident has somethingto do with Marijuana,,,is like saying 7-11s get hit because they sellcandy bars,beef jerky,or Slim Jims.......This is more twisted andconjured up media CRAP.dddd
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Comment #5 posted by mattlok on May 23, 2001 at 06:02:12 PT
It wasn't a robbery
If they were robbing they place how come they left the 6lbs of pot, the mushrooms and the money it just doesnt add up. I don't think that robbery was the motive. This is just to turn citizens against marijuana.
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Comment #4 posted by kaptinemo on May 23, 2001 at 04:49:13 PT:
The price of change, unfortunately, will be blood
Years ago, I told my boss that the brakes had gone out on me on the truck we used. He didn't believe me, and the brakes went unfixed. That is, until he rode in the truck and they cut out on him. The truck was fixed that day.I hate to say this, but it seems axiomatic in this country that problems that can endanger people's lives don't receive the proper action needed to remedy them until someone dies.But not just any Joe Shmoe...unless their survivng family members have a good and hungry lawyer. Nope, it usually requires some big shot to get nailed, or a lot of big shots getting nailed, before the problem that threatens all of us gets fixed, and fixed right.Now, if we could just arrange to have a junket plane full of anti bigwigs fly in the same area of Colombia that Captain Odom and her crew flew along, and let the FARC know they are coming...
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on May 22, 2001 at 22:56:10 PT
Bravo Dan!
I sure agree with you! I can't write but I appreciate all of you that can and do! Another tragedy. How many more until they understand? You cannot legislate personal morality. It has never worked. We are doomed to repeat history over and over again unless we learn and change our ways. We know that and I wish they would understand it too.
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on May 22, 2001 at 22:36:08 PT:
My Letter to the Washington Post
Dear Editor:I want to thank the Washington Post for printing Judy Mann's thoughtful, well-argued article "Misguided Laws Make Marijuana Deadly." It is a misguided society that looks to the failures of the past as solutions for the future, and no issue exemplifies America's proclivity toward such misguided behavior than the war on drugs. Americans need to understand that the black market created by making cannabis and other drugs illegal is far more dangerous than the drugs are themselves. The answer is not harsher penalties, nor more arrests, nor more incarcerations; we've tried those methods, and they have proven futile.America's citizens and policy makers need to consider a new approach to drug policy--one that does not automatically rule out the possibility of legalization and regulation of controlled substances. If cannabis remains illegal, organized crime will decide how best to profit from its sale, including sales to minors. If we legalize cannabis, we can set our own limits and standards on its sale, including prohibition of sales to minors.(Dan B)
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Comment #1 posted by swagman on May 22, 2001 at 22:22:00 PT
good point...
Finally somebody realizes that the street and organized crime associated with pot would disappear if it was legal. I've heard this argument presented in the opposite direction too many times.
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