The War on Drugs has taken many victims in its 44-year reign of what many would call terror. And it could be that no community has felt it as strongly as police violence-torn Baltimore.
The city where 25-year-old Freddie Gray died at the hands of law enforcement officers, sending the public into a tailspin and resulting in a week of protests, has suffered the effects of nonviolent arrest quotas too long.
And this week, several congressmen took the problematic policies to task.
Oregon’s Congressman Earl Blumenauer and Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California both spoke out last Wednesday at a press conference intended to address efforts to legalize the money states are making from the booming cannabis industry.
Rohrabacher said, “…a lot of [the disruption] has to do with frustration that’s been a problem when police end up having to search people to see if they can find some joint in their pocket, a little piece of weed, in order to ruin their life and put them in jail,” he said. “That doesn’t happen a lot in Orange County, but I know it happens in the inner city.”
In other words, as High Times puts it, he thinks that the Baltimore protests’ derailment into riots could be explained by prohibition.
It’s true — in places where decriminalization isn’t yet a thing, possessing even a trace of weed can amount to what feels like a death sentence. And the potential for violence is high.
When the police are out looking for people who can be construed as criminals, they run the risk of becoming criminals themselves. Along the way, it’s easy for innocent people to be caught in the crossfire.
After all, Baltimore has seen the brutalization of an innocent grandmother, a pregnant woman, and many more at the hands of police. And for what?
If it weren’t for policies that reward our law enforcement for punishing nonviolent offenders for things like weed, maybe some of that violence could have been avoided.