When local cops engage in conduct that seems abusive and discriminatory, cries are heard demanding a federal investigation. Despite all that happens, there remains some inexplicable belief that the feds are the saviors who will swoop in and fix those awful local cops. Except when those bad local cops have been funded by those same wonderful feds.
[State police spokesman David] Procopio said these operations were done under the auspices of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Cannabis Eradication Program, which gives state authorities money to uproot pot plants. This year, the DEA gave Massachusetts $60,000 for marijuana eradication efforts, according to federal documents obtained and published by journalist Drew Atkins.
The feds have the money. They dole it out in programs to local cops, and local cops do what the program requires because that’s how they get the money. They want the money. They want the money to keep coming. It’s free money to the cops, so why wouldn’t they?
Margaret Holcomb, an 81-year-old woman from Amherst, Mass., grew a single marijuana plant in her garden, tucked away behind the raspberries. She used it to ease the ailments of old age: glaucoma, arthritis and the occasional sleepless night.
She hadn’t tried to get a medical marijuana card, because of the challenges of getting a doctor’s approval, she told the Daily Hampshire Gazette. And traveling to the dispensary in the next town over and paying for marijuana grown by someone else would be too costly, she feared.
So on the afternoon of Sept. 21, a team of Massachusetts State Police and Massachusetts National Guard troops sent a helicopter, several vehicles, and a handful of troopers to Holcomb’s house to chop down the plant and haul it away in a pickup truck.
The helicopter was probably overkill. It’s useful to find pot growing in fields. Not so much to find a single plant behind the raspberries. At a time when states are legalizing medical marijuana, while the feds won’t budge on Schedule I narcotics, there is still money being used to fund cannabis eradication programs.
These are your heroes, kids. These are the people you turn to when the locals are too awful for you to bear.
Responding to criticism from a local government official in western Massachusetts, DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson told the Boston Herald that the state decides when and how to conduct raids for pot plants.
The Cannabis Eradication Program’s stated goal is to “halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States.” But with more and more states legalizing recreational marijuana use in recent years, some lawmakers are questioning whether an $18 million federal program to pull pot plants makes sense.
There is a president in the oval office who smoked dope. It wasn’t a disqualifier for office, and it shouldn’t be. Pretty much everybody of a certain age did, at least once, if not every time they listened to a Cheech and Chong record.* Yet, we’re still asking the question of whether it “makes sense”? Nothing about the federal handling of marijuana has made sense in decades.
And yet, there is money to pay for helicopters, and those local cops whom you mistrust are happy to do their job.
This summer, a task force consisting of National Guard troops and state troopers used a helicopter to aid in seizing four marijuana plants from 81-year-old former cancer patient Paul Jackson on Martha’s Vineyard, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times. Like Margaret Holcomb, Jackson didn’t have a medical marijuana license.
“I figured what I was growing was such a small amount, what the hell was the big deal?” Jackson told the newspaper.
So what is the big deal? The big deal is that the very people in whom you repose trust to save us from the violent police, the racist killings, the abuse of asset forfeiture to fund drunken Bacchanalias, are the ones funding this. And by funding, I mean directing the local cops to spend their time and resources on eradicating 81-year-old cancer patient Paul Jackson’s four marijuana plants.
No, it’s not the same office in the Department of Justice running the investigation. They have a civil rights division, where deputy attorneys general swoop down when the media pressure becomes great enough to give outraged press conferences on the terrible abuses perpetrated by some local cops.
But a step or two up the ladder, and you end up with some executive assistant first secretary attorney general who sends out the checks to those same police departments to send in helicopters. And then there’s the Attorney General, in charge of it all, taking time away from schooling the ever-researching Shaun King to make sure no pot plant on Martha’s Vineyard remains uneradicated.
The myopia with which we approach law enforcement is astounding. We see heroes and villians where we want to see them, refusing to recognize that they’re all the same. On the bright side, whatever is wrong with our eyes that makes them fail to see that the feds are no more our saviors than anyone else, can be helped. A little marijuana should do the trick.
*In contrast to movies that promoted criminality, the government provided an accurate and legitimate alternative.