Earlier this week Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana. If passed, the Democratic presidential candidate’s bill, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, would remove the drug from the federal list of Schedule I drugs, which is what the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies as the “most dangerous.” Now we are learning the law enforcement agencies across the country agree with the Senator, as an internal DEA survey reveals police across the nation believe that marijuana is not a threat to their communities and “the least of their problems.”
Marijuana has long been in the same category as heroin and meth, a categorization that greatly exaggerates the danger of the popular drug. To find out what America’s law enforcement believes, the DEA asked more than 1,000 agencies across the country what they thought about the drug in their “2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary.”
Of the agencies surveyed, only six percent of respondents named marijuana as a serious driver of violent crimes within their communities. Five percent of those surveyed named it as the biggest driver of property crime. This is in comparison to the three-quarters of agencies who named heroin and meth as their most most pressing concern.
Despite the fact that the decriminalization of marijuana has so far been a huge success and has generated millions of dollars in revenue in Colorado and Washington, lives continue to be ruined by unnecessary arrests across the country.
According to the Washington Post:
Beyond that, the Department of Justice has continued to aggressively prosecute marijuana cases even in places like California where some use of the plant is legal. This led to a federal judge giving a scathing rebuke to the department last month, accusing it of openly defying congressional efforts to put an end to these raids.
In addition to the raids and arrests, the DEA continues to waste millions of taxpayer dollar destroying illegally grown plants, sometimes spending as much as $60 per plant.
The fact of the matter is, our government is wasting billions of dollars “fighting” marijuana — a plant that is not only not dangerous, but has many healing benefits, as well. The judicial system is ruining people’s lives by charging them with felony drug offenses related to the “drug.” It’s ridiculous that we waste so much money prosecuting minor drug offenders when they could redirect those funds to prosecute real crimes or pay for anti-brutality classes for police officers, or for treatment programs for people addicted to destructive drugs like meth and heroin. The War On Drugs has been a colossal failure – so why can’t we admit it and abandon the Reagan-era paranoia about the dangers of smoking a little pot?
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.