While local and state governments continue moving forward with reducing and eliminating restrictions and penalties regarding marijuana, drug war beneficiaries are desperately responding by spreading disinformation. One such effort is the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Traffic Area August report “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact.”
The report purports to be a balanced analysis of the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. In fact, the report is over 150 pages of deceptive pro-drug war propaganda.
One may wonder how much time and money the HIDTA spent on researching, writing, and producing the professional appearing report. Whatever the cost, the HIDTA people must figure it is a good investment of other people’s money.
While the Rocky Mountain HIDTA and its private and government allies spent hundreds or thousands of hours creating the agitprop, drug war writer Jacob Sullum had no trouble promptly rebutting a good portion of the report’s conclusions and exposing some of the rhetorical trickery that made the report particularly deceptive. Nonetheless, singers of prohibition praise from Cully Stimson of the Heritage Foundation to DARE enthusiastically promoted bite-size packets of the report’s disinformation.
As explained by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, 28 HIDTAs, including the Rocky Mountain HIDTA, assist United States, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in fighting the drug war in areas that include 60 percent of the US population pursuant to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. While a lot has changed in America since 1988, the US government’s drug war keeps going strong.
With more and more state and local governments moving away from prohibition of marijuana and this trend showing no signs of reversing, the HIDTA people, along with their connected police departments and other allied drug war beneficiaries, must be having some job security concerns. Drug war arrests, and marijuana arrests in particular, after all, help keep the police busy. US News and World Report writer Steven Nelson reports some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation war on drugs arrest statistics:
Data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show there were an estimated 1,552,432 arrests for drug-related crimes in 2012 – a slight uptick from the 1,531,251 drug arrests in 2011. Marijuana offenses accounted for 48.3 percent of all drug arrests, a slight reduction from 49.5 percent in 2011, which itself was the highest rate since before 1995.
Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011.
HIDTAs (with their $238 million in ONDCP grants ) and US, state, and local police (with their “policing for profit” through drug war asset seizures) are not the only groups that benefit from marijuana prohibition. There are many additional beneficiaries including prosecutors who push defendants who typically lack comparable legal resources along the guilty plea conveyor belt, private and public prisons that cage drug war convicts, treatment centers where people with no addiction problem whatsoever will opt to take part in court-mandated treatment as an alternative to being in prison, and arms manufacturers who have found new income in police militarization.
While it is important to counter deceptive propaganda with truth and logic, there is little reason to expect that the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report and other propaganda efforts will stop the general American trend toward greater respect for the right to grow, use, transport, buy, and sell marijuana. On marijuana, America it seems has turned a corner, with the country moving toward a patchwork quilt of marijuana laws that overall are much less prohibitionary and punitive than the laws have been over the last few decades of the war on drugs. People are seeing firsthand that very significant loosening of marijuana restrictions in parts of the country did not cause the sky to fall. Indeed, people are seeing that marijuana freedom, despite the prohibitionists’ dire warnings and continuing disinformation campaigns, is not dangerous.
With marijuana use coming out of the shadows of illegality, people are more and more recognizing that individuals who use marijuana, on occasion or regularly, are not so different from people who do not. Reality is overtaking hype.
Marijuana freedom is nothing to fear. Instead, as Ron Paul Institute Chairman and Founder Ron Paul says, freedom “brings people together, whether you are liberal or conservative or what, because people like to be in charge of their own life; they like to be in charge of their own money.” Despite the efforts of the Rocky Mountain HIDTA and its prohibitionist allies, Americans are rejecting the government and private drug war beneficiaries’ propaganda and experiencing the benefits of “live and let live” over “arrest, fine, and incarcerate.” Hopefully, this lesson will help create paths to greater respect for other freedoms as well.