SWAT teams seem to be using excessive force in cases of marijuana possession.
“I find it quite ironic that the most dangerous thing about weed is getting caught with it.” Bill Murray’s quote perfectly sums up the problems with the failed War on Drugs.
The DEA may come in second place when it comes to blunt marijuana quotes. In their own words, “no death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.” Unfortunately, the DEA cannot make the same claim about drug raids.
Since 2010, there have been 85 deadly raids conducted by SWAT teams. Of those, 21 were targeting marijuana.
The Washington Post recently highlighted the details of three such cases:
- 29-year-old Jason Westcott of Tampa, who was shot and killed by police who stormed his home and observed him with a firearm. Westcott never fired his gun. The police uncovered a total of 0.2 grams of marijuana at Westcott’s residence, not enough to fill a typical joint.
- Trevon Cole of Las Vegas, who was targeted for a raid after undercover officers purchased 1.8 ounces of the drug from him. Cole was unarmed and was shot and killed by an officer as he was trying to flush marijuana down a toilet. His family eventually received a $1.7 million settlement from police.
- Levonia Riggins, also of Tampa, who became the subject of a raid after undercover agents purchased marijuana from him on three occasions. Riggins was in bed at the time of the raid. He didn’t respond to officers’ demands, and when the officers moved toward him Riggins made a quick movement. He was shot and killed. The raid turned up no firearms and a small amount of marijuana.
The militarization of our police has gone hand in hand with the War on Drugs. But is this what America wants? There has never been a public discussion on repurposing military grade weaponry and handing it off to local police.
It seems the American public has had enough with unnecessary violence and draconian drug laws. Polls show that Americans want to see deep reforms in police tactics and criminal sentencing.
This could be bad news for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has made it a point to criticize marijuana at every chance he gets. Many patients and businesses are now fearful of a large-scale crackdown on the marijuana industry. Recently, Sessions even linked marijuana with violence. Unfortunately, it appears that authorities are actually the ones most often linked to violence.