On Thursday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer indicated the federal government would start cracking down on recreational marijuana. Spicer’s statement reflects Department of Justice head Jeff Sessions’ stated views on pot—in several Congressional hearings, the former Senator denounced legalization and (wrongly) linked the drug to heroin addiction. Still, yesterday’s press conference may have come as an unnerving surprise to legal pot advocates, who’d hoped the industry’s profitability would shield it from the federal government in states where it’s legal.
“Trump seems insistent on throwing the marijuana market underground, wiping out tax-paying jobs and eliminating billions of dollars in taxes,” Ethan Nadelmann, the Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “As for connecting marijuana to the legal opioid crisis, Spicer has it exactly backwards. Greater access to marijuana has actually led to declines in opioid use, overdoses and other problems.”
But there’s another group, which the administration claims to have great respect for, that loses out any time the drug war is ramped up: cops.
Lori Chassee, a retired criminal investigator who worked outside of Chicago, tells Raw Story that based on her experience, not only is policing marijuana a colossal waste of time and energy, it actually decreases public safety and puts police in danger.
“If you’ve got someone fearful of arrest and of prosecution, they might get desperate and that does put officers in a higher risk position,” Chassee says. “Beyond that, leaving the distribution of drugs in the criminal element is going to present a danger to public and police officers.”
She points out that legalization leads to a drop in violence associated with illegal drugs, since profitable black markets give people the incentive to “kill and die,” Chassee says. “Anything we can do to minimize that makes us all safer.”
But the drug war has collateral damage far beyond the physical violence manifesting in places in places like Chicago, which the President has pledged to make safer.
Chassee, who now speaks on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, decided she was finished with the drug war after participating in an undercover operation targeting a marijuana dealer. He was their main target, she says—problem was, he was savvy enough to send his young girlfriend to make the sales, so in the end the large scale bust brought down a young mother. The state took her child away and she went to prison.
“To this day I don’t know if she was ever reconnected with her child,” Chassee says. “So who’s paying the biggest penalty here? She is, for love of a dirtbag. This just isn’t right.”