publicandprivatespace

March 9, 2011

Marijuana Arrests; A Waste of Time or A Logical Pursuit

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 11:24 am

By: Samantha Lieberman

Marijuana is a mind-altering drug that is illegal in most of the United States. Although this drug is illegal, it is very easy for someone to get their hands on. Many people get themselves into trouble with the law because of this drug. Arrests due to marijuana rank highest over many other serious crimes in the United States. Marijuana should be made completely legal in the United States because it would eliminate much of the crime and the police force could focus on the crimes that are actually bad in society.

There were 858,408 arrests due to marijuana in the year 2009. During this year the total arrests due to drugs were 1,663,582. This means that 51.6% of the total drug arrests were strictly because of marijuana. 758,593 of the 858,408 arrests were due to possession alone, meaning just because someone has paraphernalia on them or if they have marijuana on them they can get arrested. Paraphernalia refers to devices used to smoke marijuana that have residue on the piece.

The person being arrested could be doing nothing that is harming anyone and they can be arrested. I feel like cops should have better things to worry about arresting people for, not if they have paraphernalia or marijuana on them. Most people arrested for marijuana possession offenses are handcuffed, placed in a police car, taken to a police station, fingerprinted and photographed, held in jail for 24 hours or more and then arraigned before a judge. It almost seems pointless to arrest someone due to marijuana possession because all that happens is they get taken in for 24 hours and appointed before a judge, it seems like a waste of time to me, especially if the person arrested did nothing to disrupt society.

The Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World is New York City. This is so because there are nearly 140 people arrested each day for marijuana possession in this city. It seems slightly ridiculous to have this many people arrested for something as minor as marijuana possession, but this is what cops look for. These arrests cost tens of millions of dollars every year. This is a lot of money that can be used for something else, something more serious than pointless arrests.

Marijuana is something that people are going to continue to smoke privately, even with the knowledge of the repercussions involved with having it. If marijuana were to be made legal the crime rate would decrease gratuitously and the money that is invested in arresting each person could be put towards something that could further benefit the well-being of our society.

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9 Comments »

  1. Allyson Barham
    The issue of legalizing marijuana is an issue that I have been two sided on and this article made me even more divided on the issue. Yes I do believe that the amount of time spent arresting people for having marijuana could be put to better use, but that does not mean that it is not a problem. Yes I would like our police departments to be able to spend more time arresting dangerous criminals that are harming other people and creating higher scale problems, but marijuana is obviously illegal for a good reason or the government would not make it illegal. Mention in the article the arresting because of having Paraphernalia on you being a waste of time because the person is not doing anything wrong where they are hurting someone, I do not find to be a valid argument. Marijuana use is something that if not used in controlled situation (by doctors) that you do not know what the outcome is going to be. Buying marijuana on the street you have no proof that it is really what you are asking to buy, it could easily have some other drug mixed in with it, that you are unaware of, that could cause extreme damage to your body. So yes I do agree with this article that having marijuana legal would allow our police departments to focus on higher level crimes, but the government has it’s reason for making things illegal and I believe a lot more is going to have to change before it is legal everywhere.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 11:38 am | Reply

    • Michael J Harrington
      Marijuana has negative influences on the user, no one disputes this (well some people do…but they generally have very little evidence, evidence generally points to marijuana having at least some negative effects). But this does not mean that the government has legalized it for a good reason. People constantly bemoan what governments do, the war in the Middle East, the fight against gay marriage, the corporate bailouts, etc, etc. The government will always do things that upset certain people, but generally they have some sort of reason, normally a good reason…right? Wrong. A government may do things for any sort of ridiculous reason, to keep rich constituents happy, to gain money, or to further politician’s political goals. None of these are good reasons in my book. But just because something is bad in my opinion does not make it absolute evil. We are all different and therefore have different opinions on “good” and “bad.” So that argument isn’t good enough to really say that the government should keep marijuana illegal. But our founding fathers didn’t just leave us out in the cold to decide on the powers of government ourselves, they in fact gave us some documents, more specifically the Constitution and Bill of Rights (and all subsequent Amendments). Never mind marijuana in general, the government thinks it has the ability to regulate medical marijuana, which states already had laws legalizing. The government claims that they have they can illegalize medical marijuana under the commerce clause, which says that Congress has the ability to make laws regarding interstate commerce. How is marijuana interstate commerce? Because it has the ability to be sold across state lines…like anything else you could possibly own (I guess the government can regulate anything…right?)…

      Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 1:47 pm | Reply

  2. Katherine Martin

    I agree with your argument that perhaps the government is over spending to arrest and incarcerated people who were arrested due to marijuana. But I would also have to argue that the law is the law. What would happen to our society if officers started arresting people based on their own opinion of how bad the crime was? What if a cop thought taking and selling perscription drugs was not that big of a deal? Getting arrested can have serious implications, such as not being able to get some jobs, so the way to fight this law is not by breaking it. Also there is a serious argument about marijuana being a gateway drug, no one starts out doing meth and cocaine. While I do think legalizing marijuana would have some positive effects on society, I think that it would also cause a lot of problems. It would open the door for many other drugs, far more harmful than marijuana, to be legalized. My main point is that if legalizing marijuana is something that people feel strongly about they better go about pushing it in a legal well-thought out manner, or else they will not be taken seriously and possibly thrown in jail.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 12:59 pm | Reply

  3. Ryan Bear

    I’m glad that someone decided to choose this topic simply because it is so “highly” controversial (pun intended). I agree with several parts of both sides of the discussions. What may be the most important issue regarding legalization of marijuana in my eyes is the extremely large amount of revenue that our government could accumulate from not only the growing and distribution, but the sales tax as well. I also agree with the point you are making about wasting money on fruitless attempts to arrest every single person associated with marijuana. I understand why the government is against marijuana because it can be seen as a controlled substance, but when you take a deeper look at it, is it really that bad? I hear stories everyday on the news about how people are killed in drunk driving accidents or in domestic disputes involving alcohol, but yet its still legal, and i cant remember ever once hearing anything about soemone wrecking a car of becoming lethally violent because of being high from marijuana. I feel the taxpayers money should be put towards the stop of substances like crack,heroine, and meth that destroy peoples lives. In general, i understand why the government sees legalizing marijuana as doobious (pun intended again)behavior, but i feel like if there was a closer look into what effects it has versus amount of revenue to be gained that there could be some consideration.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  4. marijuana is obviously illegal for a good reason or the government would not make it illegal

    .
    I do hope you researched that opinion before you posted it. No? well let me google that for you

    Marijuana use is something that if not used in controlled situation (by doctors) that you do not know what the outcome is going to be.

    This is also untrue. In places where it is (at least partially) legal, such as in California, or in European countries, the effects of pure marijuana is very well documented and is often used medically.

    Buying marijuana on the street you have no proof that it is really what you are asking to buy, it could easily have some other drug mixed in with it, that you are unaware of, that could cause extreme damage to your body.

    This is why many people advocate that larger corporations that sell far more harmful substances (e.g. tobacco companies, alcohol brewers, prescription drug makers) that can be better regulated by the FDA should be the ones selling and growing these drugs, not just some guy down the block, that one guy in Calhoun or the Mexican drug cartel. And by the way, if the user/buyer not stupid, it is very easy to tell that it’s not pot or that it has some other drug in or on it.

    But I would also have to argue that the law is the law.

    Ever heard of Sharia? or the Jim Crow Laws? Or how about everything the 15th amendment changed? What about women’s suffrage and the 19th amendment changes? There were laws before those that were “the law” and they got changed, so:

    What would happen to our society if officers started arresting people based on their own opinion of how bad the crime was?

    as long as the police officers are arresting based off of the current law, not their opinions, if/when the law changes, there will be no problems.

    Also there is a serious argument about marijuana being a gateway drug, no one starts out doing meth and cocaine.

    There are some merits to this argument, but a lot of the appeal of marijuana is the fact that it’s illegal, as with alcohol, but it is not true that nobody starts out doing cocaine. In fact, it is usually cocaine and prescription drugs that lead to crack, meth, heroin and opiates, as well as other abuses.

    I think that it would also cause a lot of problems. It would open the door for many other drugs, far more harmful than marijuana, to be legalized.

    As I said before, marijuana has very few negative effects and if, when distributed in a controlled manner (e.g. not by a drug cartel) it has no physical or social effects, other than laziness which is a personal choice. This is not true for cocaine, meth, opium and heroin. Those drugs are very addictive and cause major negative affects to the human body as well as affecting others through contact with people on the drugs or making the drugs. Those drugs were made illegal for different reasons than marijuana, and thus should not be made illegal the same way as marijuana.

    My main point is that if legalizing marijuana is something that people feel strongly about they better go about pushing it in a legal well-thought out manner, or else they will not be taken seriously and possibly thrown in jail.

    ^Seconded.

    Comment by Nicholas Burmeister — March 9, 2011 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  5. I don’t agree with your argument. There is a reason that people should be arrested for illegal drugs. The idea that marijuana has medical uses may be true, but that does not mean that people who are smoking it are using it for these reasons. People who are in posession of this drug should be arrested and I don’t believe that this is a waste of time. If anything there should be harsher punishment for those that are caught so that there doesn’t have to be so many arrests each year. The fact that we merely slap them on the wrist doesn’t seem acceptable because the people who smoke this drug are not only ruining their own lives but ruining the lives around them. This drug can have harmful side effects and should continued to be looked for by police. It’s not as if arresting someone for posession of marijuana keeps police officers from responding to other serious calls. Crime will not be ignored if police continue to enforce this very useful law.

    —–Malynda Messer

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 9:34 pm | Reply

  6. I agree with your argument, i believe that it is a waste of time to arresting people who are in possession of marijuana or in possession of paraphernalia. I believe that this is a waste of time because their are crimes being committed out there that are far more worse then some one carrying a gram of marijuana that is minding their own business. When someone is arrested for having marijuana they are taken to jail where they spend the night there, and then the next day they see a judge and are latter released. This process can cost a state a lot of money that could be used for better things such as schools or fixing up the city. Another reason i believe that arresting people who have marijuana is waste of time is because, unlike such things that are legal like alcohol and tobacco which kill people everyday day marijuana does not kill people. You cant overdose from marijuana, it does not give you cancer, and it does not impair you to where everything you are doing is blur. At the most you should just get a ticket for possession of marijuana with a fine. Jail time i believe is too much for something that is safer to take the some legal substances.

    -Adam Armstrong

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 10, 2011 @ 9:43 pm | Reply

  7. I agree that arresting “criminals” for the possession of marijuana is a waste of valuable resources. Most casual smokers do not disrupt the public. I feel that if marijuana was legalized, there would be a decrease in the use of harder drugs in the united states. If it was legalized, the users could buy their product openly. This would eliminate the need for drug dealers. Without the dealers, the smokers would have a lower chance of being introduced to the harder drugs.
    You might say that the search for a new high is what makes people transition from marijuana to harder drugs. however, does one not also get a “high” from smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol? The high from cigarettes and drinking may smaller than the high from marijuana, but it still exists. But for some reason you don’t see people blaming alcohol and cigarettes for being the gateway drug to marijuana.
    I think that marijuana should be legalized and taxed by the government. This would lower our law enforcement expenses used to arrest individuals possession and would also generate revenue for our country.

    Philip Steinke

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 12:20 pm | Reply

  8. Nathan Spruill
    I agree with this argument that marijuana should be legalized and that possession should not be a crime enforced by law enforcement. It uses too much time and money that could be used for worse things such as harder drugs. The reason that there are so many marijuana arrests and probably not as many harder drug arrests is because marijuana is the most widely used and other than the fact that it is illegal, many people aren’t afraid to use it. It has been proven to not be that harmful, not any worse than cigarettes and alcohol which are legal. People and the government may argue that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and leads to use of more harmful drugs, much like we were taught in middle and high school. However even cigarettes are a gateway drug and they are legal. They are also addictive, which is a property that marijuana does not possess. I think legalizing marijuana would lead to less “gateway” into harder and more harmful drugs because if you could just pick up marijuana from the store around the corner rather than a drug dealer who may also deal with worse drugs, people would be less inclined to try the other drugs. People wouldn’t be exposed to them as much, leading to less usage. Also, the government could tax marijuana, make lots of money from it, and keep it clean so that people are only getting marijuana rather than who knows what else may be mixed in with their marijuana from a drug dealer.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 4:06 pm | Reply


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