Protected to Death

Last March, when the Drug Enforcement Administration seized less than half an ounce of cannabis that Robin Prosser, a Missoula lupus patient and medical marijuana activist, had been sent by her caregiver, the special agent in charge of the DEA's Rocky Mountain Field Division said it was "protecting people from their own state laws." Last week, unable to find a reliable supply of the only drug that relieved her pain without causing unacceptable side effects, Prosser killed herself. Although the use of medical marijuana is legal in Montana, friends say suppliers were spooked by the DEA. Writing in the Helena Independent Record, activist Tom Daubert calls Prosser's death "a direct result of DEA actions."

About a month ago I debated drug policy on the Dallas PBS station with a former head of the local DEA office, who insisted that marijuana was not a big priority for the agency. When I pointed out that his former employer was continuing to raid medical marijuana growers and dispensaries in California and other states, he said it couldn't very well sit back and allow that sort of thing. To which my response was: Why not? It is hard to understand, even from the DEA's point of view, how half an ounce of pot can be such a threat that it's worth risking an outcome like this one.

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  • ||

    We have to send the right message to young people Jake.

  • ||

    Warren -- I'd laugh at that if it wasn't the DEA's main point as to why marijuana shouldn't be legal, even for medicinal purposes. Especially where they point out the case of a girl who OD'd on ecstasy and her friends tried to force-feed her marijuana because they thought it was medicinal!!!!

    Plus the devil weed makes you run over small children while leaving Burger King's drive-through.

    It's evil I tell you. EVIL.

  • ||

    History will show that the DEA are the brownshirt storm-troopers of our time. It'll just take a few centuries.

  • fyodor||

    I wouldn't want to make a habit of being guided by the logic that anytime someone commits suicide, any governmental policy that appears to have contributed to it is ipso facto directly responsible and ipso facto in turn a misguided and wrongheaded policy (a recent PBS documentary, for example, implied that a spat of suicides among Indian farmers was the result of globalization), but in this case, one can clearly see the connection between a senseless policy restricting people from getting things they want and a suicide that is relatively sympathetic in the sense that it was likely motivated by the easily undestandable desire to escape excruciating pain. Poor gal.

  • DEA||

    Just one less pothead to incarcerate.

  • ||

    Plus the devil weed makes you run over small children while leaving Burger King's drive-through.

    It's evil I tell you. EVIL.


    That was, like, a total non sequitur, man.
    Party on.

  • ||

    A person who says his federal agency is "protecting people from their own state laws" has no business calling himself an American. What a sadly misinformed asshat.

    I look forward to the day when these heartless DEA goons are regarded in the same way most civilized people regard the organizers of the Inquisition and the Salem Witch Trials. These DEA jackboots went after an old lady smoking pot. As a medicine. May they rot in hell.

  • ||

    I've often wondered what a DEA really thinks about this whole prohibition issue.
    Is the agent a sociopathic bully who likes to fuck up peoples lives?
    Is he/she a delusional puritan who, despite all evidence, believes they're fighting a noble and important Jihad?
    Is he/she a hypocrite who knows the WOD is useless and immoral, but continues for the paycheck?
    Is he/she on the take, thus "part of the problem"?

    Probably all four profiles are well represented.

    Remember Robin Prosser and Kathryn Johnston!

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Is he/she a delusional puritan who, despite all evidence, believes they're fighting a noble and important Jihad?


    In a sense. Ultimately, what it probably comes down to is an us-vs-them mentality, where "them" consists of drug users, sellers and traffickers. Like the Stanford Prison Experiment, "they" don't have to have done anything wrong at all, except be a part of a group that one is charged with suppressing. It's about power and dehumanization.

  • ||

    Some legal eagle answer this one: If I try to uphold a state law, and a DEA Agent breaks that law, can I do a citizen's arrest against the DEA guy? Can he be prosecuted for breaking the State law?

  • sv||

    "[We] couldn't very well sit back and allow that sort of thing."

    I think many government servants, most especially law enforcement and prosecutors and judges but even low level pencil-pushers/clerks, sincerely believe that they are our soverigns instead of the other way around; government has become equated with authority over ordinary citizens ("the authorities") in such a deeply entrenched way that people who don't view government as such (such as libertarians) are at best dismissed as kooks and at worst vilified and persecuted as being dangerous.

    This is just my vague feeling from years of interactions with government. I could be wrong and I welcome dissenters. But I feel like there is a general disposition in government (and even amongst large portions of the public) in general which holds that government has an inalienable right to power over the general population, that government (even here in America) is solely responsible for taking 'care' of citizens in an increasing number of ways and deciding how that care ought to be administered. There's also the maintainence of authority to be considered. The above quote from the former DEA head got me thinking about this. Cops, even the very many honest and good-natured ones who I believe make up the majority, have to be authoritarian and somewhat bullying in the streets; they have to intimidate, because that is mostly where their power to enforce laws comes from: fear on the part of citizens.

    In other words, they cannot tolerate any disrespect, lawful or unlawful, or even the appearance of such disrespect, because it makes them look bad and hinders their ability (or at least, they believe it does) to deal with the population and do their jobs. That's why you don't even talk back to a cop, why you run when he tells you to move along, why you don't dare question him when he seems to be violating the rights of another citizen.

    I guess I'm just venting in a vague way here, and I don't even think it's the cops' fault, nor do I know any solution, although i suspect it would involve vastly reducing the number of laws they're called upon to enforce, as well as an alteration in the fearful nanny-state mentality that demonizes all manner of ordinary things, inflates every minute danger, and expects government to make it all better. (Sure, sounds easy.) It's the subtly superior and almost punitive attitude I sense whenever I have to deal with any government bureaucracy whatsoever, that I object to.

    If you've ever gotten a sense that cops are something like a semi-benevolent armed gang out there, yet one with official sanction and endless reach which you dare not cross (even though 'crossing' a cop is not equivalent to committing a crime), you know where i'm coming from.

  • Juanita||

    This is a sad outcome, but in balance how many lives are saved by preventing people from using dangerous drugs like pot. It is important to send a clear, consistant, unambiguous "no use" message to protect Americas children.

  • Timothy||

    Fuck you, Juanita. Jesus. I don't care if you're a real troll or a parody of a troll, whatevz, FOAD.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If you've ever gotten a sense that cops are something like a semi-benevolent armed gang out there...

    I've never really gotten a sense that cops were even semi-benevolent.

  • ||

    Quotes from DEA agents

    DEA Agent 1:

    "Word on the street is a group of Colombian scientists are developing a moth they call "Noyesi's" to wipe out cocaine production by eating the plant. Should this scheme succeed cocaine as we know it could be history... and a good portion of our work could be wiped out in a matter of months. Should cocaine and all of its related narcotics disappear, our nation, and others, could suffer a serious economic recession. Needless to say, should this insect plan prove effective in Colombia, some wise-a** bright boy will develop a bug that will devour opium poppies. Such a disaster will truly send our agency up S**t Creek... Without heroin and coke to do battle with we will be left with only marijuana, meth and the piddly-a** drugs. [Asterisks in the original.]



    DEA aGent 2:

    "That is why we need to get behind President Bush's goal of outlawing all, repeat all, forms and reasons for abortion. ... With abortion, birth control (bc) pills and emergency bc outlawed a new, underground illegal drug industry will spring up overnight. This industry will be fueled by thousands of chemistry and pre-med majors making bc drugs and devices in their labs, garages and attics. Hundreds of thousands of pervert fathers and serial rapists who want to impregnate their daughters and/or as many women possible before getting caught won't care about finally getting caught as long as they know they will leave behind dozens of rape-babies that the new Bush Abortion Laws will prohibit being aborted. Advocates of anti-abortion laws that include rape and incest pregnancies will say: 'Even incest and rape babies are children that God wants.'"
    ...
    "Thousands of nurses will moonlight as abortionists. And almost every women's gym, diet center and beauty salon will provide abortion services or referrals to their most loyal and trusted clients. The illegal abortion industry will do for DEA what cocaine and heroin never could because not everyone will use those two drugs... but everyone screws. Science will one day do away with heroin and cocaine, but nothing will do away with sex. We need to support our president's anti-abortion agenda to save our jobs, to guarantee our children's and grandkid's college tuitions, but most of all... to preserve our Gold Badge."



    DEA Agent 3:

    "I don't think that it is a good idea for one among us to telegraph our feelings on what could be a new and exciting frontier for DEA that would perpetuate our jobs for decades into the future. I, for one, have young children and I am counting on my DEA paycheck to put them through college, just as all of my predecessors in this job pulled their punches and dragged their feet on thousands of cases to ensure that cocaine, heroin and other drugs didn't disappear... So, I cannot disagree with the writer who says we should look at our agency more as a retirement system than a job, but I don't think it's a very good idea to say this publicly. There are some secrets that are best kept to ourselves... particularly when we're all laughing our way to the bank with great paychecks."



    Personally, I view DEA agents as traitors, Benedict Arnolds who, for their own personal gain, terrorize and predate on their countrymen. If the God of the Old Testament were around, every one of them would die screaming in agony from the most painful and lingering of cancers.

    Oh, and any DEA agents reading this, I'm sure Osama Bin Laden and the North Korean government thank you for your efforts to preserve their drug-dealing profits. FARC is grateful too that you guys help them earn the money they need to buy the weapons they use to terrorize people in Columbia. Thanks to you, the terorist groups that want to kill Americans are better funded and better armed. So take a bow, DEA agents; you are the wind beneath the wings of many of your country's enemies. But hey, so long as you get that paycheck without having to produce something people actually want, great huh? Thanks for making us less free, and less secure.

  • Rhywun||

    I enjoy Juanita's dry wit.

  • ||

    After a few minutes of seething after I read these stories, I fall back to the perspicasious questions raised by J sub D.

    What does motivate these DEA agents?
    Are they like Hobbes and get thier morality from the law?
    Do they really think that marijuana is dangerous?
    Do they really think they are doing good when they arrest?
    How many of them smoke cigarettes?
    How many of them drink?
    How many abstain from even over the count medications?
    How far are they willing to take the WOD? Would they be in favor or summary executions? Less due process for defendants? The death penalty for casual users?
    Do they really think they are going to "win" the WOD?
    What does "win" mean to them?
    If could waive a magic wand and cause all people to stop using only illegal drugs, thereby causing there reason for thier agency to exist to cease, would they REALLY be in favor of that?

  • ||

    I swear upon science and all that is rational that I will punch the next DEA agent I come into contact with square in the balls so hard they will be lucky to not hemorrhage.

  • SIV||

    I'm an absolutist on legalizing drugs on the principles of autonomy and private property.

    activist Tom Daubert calls Prosser's death "a direct result of DEA actions."

    No, the direct cause of Robin Prosser's death was her own action.

    Kathryn Johnson's death was "the direct result" of the Atlanta Police Department's actions.

  • ||

    No, the direct cause of Robin Prosser's death was her own action.

    Yeah, but if I'm the official scorer in the WOD, the DEA gets credit for an assist.

  • ||

    "I've often wondered what a DEA really thinks about this whole prohibition issue.
    Is the agent a sociopathic bully who likes to fuck up peoples lives?"

    Troy, actually, i know several DEA agents fwiw.

    all but one think marijuana should be decriminalized.

    the attitude of the average DEA agent is not the "official" attitude of the appointed cop-o-crat DEA official who pimps the appropriateness of these raids.

    this is similar to the gun control thang. the IACP and most police chiefs (note that police chiefs are usually political appointees. they are not street cops. most gun grabbers etc. love to quote police chief X or the IACP which are usually pro gun control as some sort of evidence that actual cops are pro gun control

    as a states rights advocate, i believe its atrocious policy (although constitutional imo) for this kind of stuff to happen

    however, we keep electing representatives who do not respect states rights and who have little regard for personal freedom and responsibility.

    again, the power lies with the LEGISLATURE to change the laws so that DEA doesn't do these stupid things.

    but they won't. heck, john edwards on the recent debate said decrim was bad "for the sake of the children" etc.

  • ||

    This is just a backdoor attempt by lazy hippies to the legalization of more disastrous drugs like alcohol and tobacco.

  • ||

    "Some legal eagle answer this one: If I try to uphold a state law, and a DEA Agent breaks that law, can I do a citizen's arrest against the DEA guy? Can he be prosecuted for breaking the State law?"

    it doesnt work that way, not in criminal or constitutional law. any state can (and most do) recognize additional constitutional rights (under their state constitutional) and/or legal protections than exist federally.

    for example, my state (WA) has much greater privacy protections (due to our state constitution) than the fed. constitution recognizes.

    a federal agent, investigating a federal crime is not restricted by those decisions. state and local are.

    similarly, if WA says medical mj is legal (which it does) that's irrelevant to the fact that it's a federally scheduled (schedule I) drug and thus even if legally obtained pursuant to WA law, it can be federally prosecuted.

  • ||

    No, the direct cause of Robin Prosser's death was her own action.

    There are multiple "direct causes" of anything that happens. Sure, the final decision was hers to make, but that doesn't mean the DEA wasn't also a direct cause, and is, in fact, rather heartless to suggest.

    She apparently suffered from debilitation pain so I think a decision that she couldn't cope with such suffering any longer is not unreasonable. It would certainly be unfeeling and patronizing for anyone who hasn't been in that situation to say otherwise. She also apparently found some level of relief from marijuana. Her inability to get it was a direct result of the DEA. Therefore her increased level of pain and suffering was a direct result of the DEA's actions. Her increased level of suffering and pain was certainly a direct cause of her decision not to continue such suffering. I think given that chain, it is indisputable that the DEA was a direct cause of her suicide.

    The only way to avoid that conclusion, it seems, is to suggest that she should just accept her suffering and live out a life in excruciating pain which, as I said, would be rather heartless and cruel. Of course you might suggest that perhaps other pain drugs could be made to work for her if used in sufficient amounts. But getting a doctor to prescribe pain drugs in truly sufficient amounts to alleviate debilitating pain is almost impossible these days. Oh, and guess what is the direct cause of that unfortunate situation. Yep, the DEA.

  • ||

    "Yep, the DEA"

    they are no more the DIRECT cause than the legislators who refuse to address this issue (by creating an exception in the federal scheduling codes for mj under medical mj in states where it is legal), or any of the executive branch members who have control over the DEA.

    "DIRECT" cause is ludicrous. INdirect is at least arguable.

    libertarians are supposed to believe that people's actions are (generally) their own, not the fault of ozzy osbourne (suicide solution), the evul media (tm) (anorexia), mcdonalds (obesity), etc. etc.

    calling the DEA the DIRECT cause essentially redefines what the word DIRECT means. and like many people who want to make a political point, changing language to suit one's ideology is a common tactic.

  • ||

    again, the power lies with the LEGISLATURE to change the laws so that DEA doesn't do these stupid things.

    That doesn't mean the DEA agent is not responsible for his immoral actions. We've hopefully gotten past the "I was just following orders" defense for thuggery.

  • ||

    "DIRECT" cause is ludicrous.

    Bullshit. I think you'll need to define "direct cause" to say something like that because under my reading of it, they are indeed a direct cause. If they hadn't chosen (and they absolutely have plenty of discretion to not go after doctors) to pursue this course of action the result described would not have happened. That is a direct cause in my mind.

  • ||

    "That doesn't mean the DEA agent is not responsible for his immoral actions. We've hopefully gotten past the "I was just following orders" defense for thuggery."

    rubbish. the "i was just following orders' defense does not work for ILLEGAL actions.

    what the DEA did is WRONG, but it is not illegal.

    the DEA is executive branch. they don't MAKE the law. they ENFORCE it.

    you cannot work in law enforcement without accepting that you will be forced to enforce (some laws) you disagree with.

    bad laws are the fault of the LEGISLATURE. ***not*** the DEA, and certainly not individual agents.

    if a DEA agent does something corrupt, illegal, etc. THAT is his fault. if he is forced to enforce BAD LAW that is not his fault.

    as usual, in this blog, nobody wants to blame the legsilature, they want to blame the cops. the LEGISLATURE makes medical mj illegal (under federal law) and ***only*** they can change that (or an activist scotus decision).

    blaming the DEA agents is like blaming a SCOTUS justice for making a legal decision that has a bad result. judges don't write the constitution. they are duty bound to act within the rule of law (legal precedent, the constitution etc.).

    LEGISlATURES can change bad law.

    it is THEIR fault that this stuff is happening. ONLY they can change the RULE that is the LAW that makes medical MJ illegal.

    executive branch members are unfortunately often forced to enforce BAD (and good) LAW.

    individual agents have far less discretion than individual street cops, generally speaking (many cops will just give warnings and toss out MJ instead of citing or arresting).

    blame the people who make bad law. NOT those that are forced (by their superiors) to enforce it

  • ||

    libertarians are supposed to believe that people's actions are (generally) their own, \

    And generally they are. But they essentially pulled the one thing that helped her pain right out of her hand. Like I said, if you don't believe that she should have just endured unending pain and suffering the rest of her life, I don't see how you can say someone's deliberate action to take away all your options for relief is not a direct cause. That is what I would call ludicrous. We're not talking about a government refusing to give someone something, which it has no obligation to do, we're talking about it taking away the ability to care for yourself and your personal autonomy which leads directly to suffering. If you think only the very last step (her suicide to end the suffering) counts as a direct cause, then it is you who is changing the plain meaning of language to reach the conclusion. Ironic in that you accuse others of the very thing you're doing.

  • ||

    "Bullshit. I think you'll need to define "direct cause" to say something like that because under my reading of it, they are indeed a direct cause. If they hadn't chosen (and they absolutely have plenty of discretion to not go after doctors) to pursue this course of action the result described would not have happened. That is a direct cause in my mind."

    if you want to redefine the meaning of "direct" (iow, dilute the word) to fit your political agenda, feel free. i get tired of sophists.

  • ||

    The old lady killed herself to end her pain filled life, when it became clear that the DEA thugs would deny her the only substance that would relieve her unremitting, agonizing pain. What mindless cruelty.

    It's too bad she didn't decide to take a few of them with her.

  • ||

    rubbish. the "i was just following orders' defense does not work for ILLEGAL actions.

    Heh. That statement is what is rubbish (I seem to notice a pattern here).

    Not to Godwin you here, but would you make the same argument for those who legally gassed Jews in WWII? What they did was wrong but not illegal.

    Again, let me make it clear, I'm not suggesting the DEA agent is the same as the gaurd in the concentration camp. What I'm trying to point out is the legality is no defense for immoral actions (though obviously I view the Nazi's as far more immoral).

    The comparison again for others out there who might be reading comprehension impaired: legal vs. immoral NOT DEA vs. Naze.

  • ||

    if you want to redefine the meaning of "direct" (iow, dilute the word) to fit your political agenda, feel free. i get tired of sophists.

    What the fuck are you talking about? I used it as it is defined. I'm getting tired of people with such blinders on they can't see around their own political agenda to realize what "direct" means. Jesus.

    Please tell me how choosing to go after doctors (they didn't have to do that - they HAD discretion) is not directly leading to the result that doctors don't want to prescribe pain medications for fear of attracting DEA attention? I'll bet most reasonable people would indeed see that as a direct cause.

  • ||

    brian, what do you honestly expect DEA agents to do? that NOBODY should be a DEA agent (or a police officer) because they necessarily will enforce some laws that they find immoral?

    that is an IMPOSSIBLE standard. my point about legality is that this is CLEARLY a policy issue.

    they are not violating the constitution or some sort of universal human right.

    we live under the rule of law. sometimes the rule is stupid, immoral, etc. we still HAVE to have executive branch members (in law enforcement)

    the BLAME lies with the legislative branch. only THEY can change unjust laws.

    and i notice a pattern too. everytime a cop (DEA, cop, etc.) is tasked with enforcing BAD law, then the cop, dea agent etc. is immoral, etc.

    the FAULT is with the legislature. we have a seperation of powers. THEY are tasked with making (and repealing) law.

    my point is about where the fault lies.

    it does not lie with the executive branch. it lies with the branch that is responsbile for the immoral law.

    if a law rose to the extent of nazi-esque behavior, i would agree with you. but clearly, this doesn't.

    do you expect DEA agents to conscientiously object to these raids and not take part? seriously?

    how about holding the people who SHOULD be accountable, accountable - those who make UNJUST laws and refuse to repeal them even in light of evidence that they are simply wrong.

    medical mj has been a reality for a long time, and i have yet to see a change in the federal drug scheduling that STILL makes it a crime under federal law.

    part of the rule of law means we accept that immoral and/or wrong laws will ALWAYS exist (always have always will) but they we have a system to CHANGE bad law.

    we have that system and nobody is doing #$()#-all to change these stupid laws.

  • ||

    The old lady killed herself to end her pain filled life, when it became clear that the DEA thugs would deny her the only substance that would relieve her unremitting, agonizing pain. What mindless cruelty.

    It's too bad she didn't decide to take a few of them with her.


    I would have. And will, if it ever comes to that.

  • ||

    I live in Missoula and as a reporter, have been following my colleagues covering this important story for years.
    Robin Prosser was in excruciating, unbearable pain. That pain was diminished greatly by marijuana.
    The fucking DEA can go fuck themselves with fucking live pit bulls there to fucking chew their fucking balls off while they're fucking themselves and their mothers in their fucking ears.

  • ||

    You got that DEA? Google my fucking name and consider it a threat, you fucking low-life sadistic, life-hating, death-dealing piece of shit fuck stains.

  • ||

    Anyway, I really don't care about arguing the semantics of "direct cause" - the facts that matter are these: The DEA chose to take an action(s) (there are many they can take and therefore they have discretion to choose among many options) which removed from her the ability to adequately relieve her suffering. Her options at that point were to either live out her life suffering or end that suffering in the only way left to her because of the DEA's actions. Whether or not you call it a "direct cause" is ultimately irrelevant to the fact that their actions were immoral and led to the a person being unable to prevent her suffering which absent their action(s) was preventable. So fine, you want to win the "direct cause" argument? I'll give it to you. What have you proven? Nothing of any substance, that's for sure.

  • ||

    note:

    not one post (i saw) condemning the legislature. the body responsible for BAD law and the only body that has the POWER to change bad law and make it into good law.

    which exactly makes my point.

    many states have (rightly imo) passed medical mj laws. congress has YET to change the federal law to legalize that behavior under federal law.

    they've had YEARS.

    but it's the DEA's fault, and the indivdual agents fault?

    riiiiiiiiiiiiight

  • ||

    actually, brian, i like your post, but my point was that i hate when ideologues change language to suit political agenda (as imo you have done).

    regardles, we don't disagree that the DEA should not have done this raid. what we disagree on is (to some extent) semantics.

    and of course, I still totally blame the LEGISLATURE for bad law, not the DEA

    and certainly not the individual agents. the DEA is very hierarchal . and i can guarantee you the decision to raid grannie was not made by SA John Smith etc. it was made by higher ups in the ADMINISTRATION (iow, cop-o-crats not real cops) with the full support of the powers that be

    and it wouldn't even be an issue if the LAW was changed. that is the responsibility of the legislature. they have failed to do so.

    their fault

  • ||

    how about holding the people who SHOULD be accountable, accountable - those who make UNJUST laws and refuse to repeal them even in light of evidence that they are simply wrong.


    Hey, I completely agree with that. We should hold them responsible. But, that doesn't mean others do not share the blame and should not also be held responsible. Rule of law or not, you have a duty to behave in a moral manner towards your fellow human. Taking an action that causes a person to suffer is, in most cases, immoral (self-defense, being one exception). I don't care whether a legislature has made something legal - they cannot alter that fundamental duty of humanity to act morally.

    And to your question, yes, I would expect an agent to not participate in any raid on any medical marijuana operation, or for any marijuana reason, for one. If he believes that to be moral, then fine, but he's a thug and not someone I'd want in polite company. If he doesn't agree that it's moral, then he absolutely has a duty to refuse to participate and probably should resign. Nobody gets a moral action pass just be getting a job as a DEA agent and acting legally.

  • ||

    (as imo you have done).

    Well that was not my intention (and I don't believe I did so) and therefore I chose to remove the language issue from the debate. I'm always concerned with the underlying issue at hand, not what we choose to call it. Second, I don't think I have a "political agenda" as, speaking of language, that carries a pejorative connotation. I certainly don't wnt to force anyone to do anything besides live up to the basic duty to behave morally towards other individuals, as I mentioned. I believe very strongly in the fundamental rights of the individual to live his life and, pardon the languge, to be generally left the fuck alone. If that is an agenda, so be it.

  • ||

    Whit, those are excellent points. Your last line is somewhat inaccurate though. Many are striving to end the war on drugs sanity. We are underfunded and outnumbered, but still, one person at a time, minds are being changed. This is from a local (the republican leaning one) paper. Progress is being made, slowly, ever so slowly.

  • ||

    ok. that's clear enough. i totally disagree but i can respect that POV

    as i said, i accept that NOBODY could be a LEO if they were not willing to enforce (some) laws they found wrong, morally or practically.

    there is no way around it.

    if everybody felt the way you do, we would either not have ANY law enforcement officers, or we would have cops that on an ad hoc individual basis decided what raids to participate in, what raids not to participate in, what laws to enforce, what laws not to enforce etc. (which would be anarchy), or we would have law enforcement officers who were unthinking automatons that didn't have the moral sense to disagree with any laws that were on the book.

    none of those solutions are either good or practicable.

    it's a CLASSIC example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    on the whole, our laws are pretty reasonable. many, are not.

    i believe in the RULE OF LAW, even if i disagree (to put it mildly) with many many many laws.

    there are plenty of cops who think (for example) that growing mj should not be illegal, and that it is morally wrong to imprison somebody for doing so.

    does that mean they must conscientioulsy object - refuse to participate in any mj raids? refuse to testify to any grows that they see? refuse to arrest anybody for same?

    etc.

    it's simply an unworkable ridiculous standard imo.

    im a pragmatist. bad laws exist and we can't expect cops to pick and choose (although again, local cops have a fair amount of discretion, especially for misdemeanors)

  • SIV||

    So fine, you want to win the "direct cause" argument? I'll give it to you.

    Brian,

    I didn't "win" anything I was stating fact.

    whit

    but it's the DEA's fault, and the indivdual agents fault?

    Her death isn't their direct fault as I stated.That she was unable to obtain marijuana is their fault.You suggest a bureaucracy and it's employees are disinterested party who merely carry out tasks assigned to them by the legislature, riiiiiiiiiiiight(as you say)

  • ||

    whit, I was referring to your 7:45pm post.

  • SIV||

    (which would be anarchy)

    Anarchy? On a libertarian blog?
    Will the horrors never cease?

  • ||

    I didn't "win" anything I was stating fact.

    SIV, that was directed at my argument with whit. In the end I don't care if we call it direct or not, for the reasons I stated above. However, I don't think it is a simple as saying it's a "fact" since causation is a rather subjective and debatable concept to begin with. Nonetheless, the label is irrelevant to the underlying issue and the fact that their discretionary action resulted (rather directly, imo) in her not having any treatment option to relieve her suffering. But I've been over this so I have nothing more to add.

    ok. that's clear enough. i totally disagree but i can respect that POV

    Ok, whit, likewise. I think we'll have to leave it at that.

  • SIV||

    If the DEA employess who actually believe what whit claims they do about marijuana lobbied, testified, and offered their opinions and experiences in written form to the legislature the law might be changed.

    No, they belong to an organization that does all that to the exact opposite goal. The DEA is the strongest,loudest and most authoritative voice influencing Congress to perpetuate and increase the WoDs.

  • SIV||

    Brian,

    I was the one who originally objected to the misuse of language by the med mj advocate.
    whit did an excellent job of making the case in that matter. He then made claims even more absurd than the advocate in casting a bureaucracy as a
    disinterested functionary body with no influence ovet the law and policies it carries out.

  • ||

    "You suggest a bureaucracy and it's employees are disinterested party who merely carry out tasks assigned to them by the legislature, riiiiiiiiiiiight(as you say)"

    no

    i am saying they are tasked with enforcing the (sometimes) stupid laws passed by the legislature.

    bad law is not THEIR fault.

    like i said, i know several DEA agents. many are for criminalization of "hard drugs". but most (that i know) think mj decrim is a good idea.

    that's irrelevant to the fact that they don't make the law criminalizing mj

  • ||

    "He then made claims even more absurd than the advocate in casting a bureaucracy as a
    disinterested functionary body with no influence ovet the law and policies it carries out."

    i didn't say that. i said THEY did not pass the laws. i also made clear distinction between cop-o-crats (bureaucratic muckety mucks) and actual FIELD agents (or street cops in the case of local PD's).

    the former ARE political appointees. do you honestly think they (the 'crats) are going to publically advocate for MJ decrim? get real.

    that would be like a police chief in a liberal city advocating for concealed carry. political appointees know who butters their bread.

    as for field agents, like i said, many are for decrim. nobody CARES what the field agents think (among politicians) nor are many going to risk getting stationed to the buttmunch north dakota field office for publically stating their views that the war on MJ is a total waste of time.

    again, im a pragmatist.

    legislatures make (bad) laws. its up to them to CHANGE the laws, and its THEIR responsibility FOR the bad laws, NOT the executive branch

  • ||

    legislatures make (bad) laws. its up to them to CHANGE the laws, and its THEIR responsibility FOR the bad laws, NOT the executive branch

    whit, We're working on it, dammit! It's tough sledding though. We sometimes come here to vent. It beats standing in traffic and doing our screaming at the world.

  • ||

    whit, one other thing. Maybe you know some honest DEA agents (cops, they're all cops). That's good to hear. But remember that when Kathryn Johnston was gunned down in her own home, every cop involved was dirty. All were guilty of sins of commision or sins of ommision (turning a blind eye to institutionalized corruption).

    The APD expcts us to believe they've cleaned up the problem, but I, and many others, are convinced that for every dirty cop there are at least 10 who know and do nothing about it. That drives a lot of the anti LEO venom you see here.

    The law enforcement community should look inward if they desire to know what happened to the publics respect for cops!

  • ||

    "The law enforcement community should look inward if they desire to know what happened to the publics respect for cops!"

    actually, if you look at the polls, the publics respect for cops is quite high - higher than many other professions, and certainly higher than politicians.

    regardless, i can't speak for the integrity or lack thereof of APD.

  • ||

    actually, if you look at the polls, the publics respect for cops is quite high - higher than many other professions, and certainly higher than politicians.

    actually, if you look at the polls, evolution isn't correct. Majority opinion does not change facts. Fact is in almost every big city police department, cops routinely violate the citizenry's civil rights.

  • ||

    j sub d, that is 100% irrelevant.

    the OP said that the publics respect for cops has eroded. i said that the publics respect for cops is quite high.

    as for your claim that cops "routinely" violate civil rights, i disagree. it happens. in some depts' more than others. you can point out examples, of course. it happens.

  • SIV||

    i didn't say that. i said THEY did not pass the laws. i also made clear distinction between cop-o-crats (bureaucratic muckety mucks) and actual FIELD agents (or street cops in the case of local PD's).

    the former ARE political appointees.


    No, most of them are career civil servants who began their careers as field agents. The institutional bureaucracy is just as or more culpable as the legislature when they lobby for the laws and policies (and funding) that they enforce.Dumb ass legislators don't even read what they vote for , much less write it.
    When drug laws come before the legislature the bureaucracy tells them what they want and the politicians defer to the "experts". They don't give any weight to smelly hippies like that idiot Tom Daubert (or thoughtful libertarians like Balko or Sullum either :)

    I may be wrong but I don't recall State Highway Patrols testifying against the repeal of the 55MPH speed limit but when med mj comes before Congress their is the DEA testifying little Janie is going to get gang raped by Negro Jazz Musicians and crazed IllegalMexican farmhands if the Feds let States allow sick people to obtain cannabis legally.

  • ||

    Fact is, in almost every big city police department, cops routinely violate the citizenry's civil rights. I'd put that most at 80%. I live in Detroit, so defending police behavior in 21st century America to me is going to be nigh impossible. Do you truly believe that cops don't do racial profiling routinely, don't lie to obtain warrants routinely, don't carry drugs to plant on "smartass punks" routinely? Must be nice there in Maybury.

    Here are the 10 largest cities in the United States.
    1 New York, New York 8,084,316
    2 Los Angeles, California 3,798,981
    3 Chicago, Illinois 2,886,251
    4 Houston, Texas 2,009,834
    5 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1,492,231
    6 Phoenix, Arizona 1,371,960
    7 San Diego, California 1,259,532
    8 Dallas, Texas 1,211,467
    9 San Antonio, Texas 1,194,222
    10 Detroit, Michigan 925,051

    I contend, and have seen nothing to dispute this, that civil rights violations are endemic in at least 8 of these cities police departments. Just for fun, pick three that you think are free of widespread abuses.

    You are assuredly correct that the public, by and large still respects the police. The public, by and large are fools. I am correct that the police in the United States act more like an occupying power than civil servants.

  • SIV||

    whit,

    You were dead on on the DEA not being directly responsible for Robin Prosser's death
    as I originally stated above.I"ve known (and know) LEOs who are fine people too.

    Particularly in the case of Federal bureaucracies, I reject your dichotomy of field agents just doing their jobs and "cop-o-crats".
    There is an institutional imperative and every cog plays its part.

    Do the narcs where you work have one of those "When Drugs are Legalized We're Out of a Job" posters hanging on the wall?

  • SIV||

    I'm not singling out LEOs in such matters.
    All bureaucracies have their say in passing the laws that perpetuate their institutions and powers.That is one reason why this whole "Democracy" thing doesn't work the way people idealize it- and why I'm a libertarian.

  • ||

    Shit Jsub,

    Me and Barney carry "throwdown pieces"
    and a few spare bags of contraband here in Mayberry.There is thin blue line between Civilization and Anarchy even in rural North Carloina!

  • ||

    Siv, i know lots of narcs (and DEA agents).

    in general, they think mj is a harmless drug. many did (and admitted this when they applied to be a cop) mj when they were younger (there's a time and a place for drugs and its called college).

    of course there is some institutional momentum (in ANY govt. agency) for increased power and not killing the golden goose (civil forfeitures, etc.)

    street cops i know really could not care less about some dipsh*t with a couple of joints. really. especially in the privacy of their own home.

    that's cause they know, among other things, that guys who smoke mj are more likely to be chillin' out laffin at dumb movies and eating cheezy poofs, then they are out there "committin' crimes" like many tweaked out meth-heads.

    otoh, since mj remains illegal, it DOES give cops an "excuse" to conduct a search and few cops aren't gonna take advantage of THAT.

    that's just the reality.

    i'm telling you there is a strong dichotomy between the cop-o-crats and the line cops (field agents) just as there is in most labor situations. with rare exceptions (darryl gates comes to mind), the powers that be are not viewed as "real cops" and in many instances - they aren't or weren't. wambaugh, among others, riffed on that reality frequently.

    the head of the DEA is an APPOINTED position, and it's entirely political. if the govt. is officially against mj, if it's the law of the land, that's gonna be the official stance of the DEA, regardless that many field agents think mj is a relatively benign (if somewhat stoopid) pasttime.

    i am telling you that the dichotomy exists. it DEFINITELY exists on gun control. most cops are all for CCW's, but you'd NEVER know that if you listen to the IACP, and other org's peopled by police/leo admins.

    as an example of cop-o-crats promoting OFFICIAL policy...

    when the testimony was given before congress to schedule AAS (anabolic androgenic steroids) both the DEA *and* the AMA came out AGAINST making steroids a controlled substance. that included cop-o-crats. now that they ARE scheduled, you will be hard pressed to find examples of muckety mucks that will supoort that position. why? mostly because it's policy, and they are POLITICIANS. you don't get to high levels in the DEA or most PD's without being a politician.

    there are some cops who do occasionally speak out pro-mj, but usually that's "among friends". it's just not politically healthy

  • ||

    whit, when I first heard that Kathryn Johnston had been gunned down in her own home on 11/22/06 I posted this

    I have some questions. Did the police talk to the neighbors about the house and residents?
    Did the police do surveillance on the house and residents. Did the police do a GODDAM THING to corraborate the evidence (that led to the warrant)? Was there more than one piece of "evidence" relating to the warrant? Did the judge who signed the warrant ask ANY FUCKING QUESTIONS before signing it. Finally I have to ask this because of the numbers in the WOD. Was she a white person?

    Does anyone. ANYONE, want to wager that the answer to one of these question is YES.

    I did'nt think so.


    How could I have been so cynical? I'd never dealt with the APD. I hadn't read about FBI investigations into the APD. Of course I missed predicting the planting of evidence at the scene, that there was NO evidence that the drug dealing was occuring at her house, that the judge approves no knock warrants by clicking yes on the 'puter in the morning (judicial oversight, you gotta love it). No, I just knew big city cops and deduced from there. Sad but true.

  • bromo98||

    The sad thing about the DEA knocking over medical marijuana folks like this is that - it's really no challenge. They don't have to work for it.
    Reading article and commentary, one gets the sense that the terminally ill aren't out there concealing the fact they use or grow.
    How hard must it really be for any DEA agent to pad his/her stats by arresting someone that isn't really trying to conceal what they are doing?
    It's sad. If you're going to take all this credit for winning the WoD - at least work for it.

  • ||

    The sad thing about the DEA knocking over medical marijuana folks like this is that - it's really no challenge. They don't have to work for it.

    Now that I've thought about it, I don't accept whit's excuses for the agents who participate in these raids. DEA agents are not just out of the acadamy, newly minted LEOs. DEA agents are degreed professionals who can certainly land a law enforcement position that doesn't invole raiding sick peoples homes and pharmacies. Yes they'd probably have to take a 10% pay cut to do that. Maybe even 20%. They and their famiolies will still do just fine, thank you very much. Any and all of the participants at these mrdical marijuana raids can say, "This is wrong. I'm not going to do this anymore. Tomorrow morning I'm giving my 2 week notice". If that doesn't happen, they are culpable for the harm caused.

  • Officer Friendly||

    Why didn't the DEA want to enforce steroid laws?
    Do you guys "question your sexuality" around the muscle boys? Or does the enforcement policy not allow shooting dogs?

  • ||

    "I am correct that the police in the United States act more like an occupying power than civil servants."

    Just today on the 10 o'clock news in Denver began with a armed robberies of several citizens in their driveways. Where oh where is the long arm of the law when you really need them? Oh yeah they're busy busting pot smokers / dealers, I forgot, IFTC. I'm sure the victims of real assault and robbery are very glad that the LEO's have such a high priority for Federal drug laws. Follow the money.

  • Mad Max||

    whit,

    There is a lot to be said in favor of your vision of apolitical police enforcing all the statutes enacted by legislatures, even the statues the cops don't like.

    My question is - how many cops actually share your vision? We have been hearing on this blog about cops who denounce colleagues with the nerve to enforce the traffic laws against other cops, or against doctors, nurses, and others.

    The argument that "we have no choice - we must enforce the law as written" presupposes apolitical cops who are willing to enforce all laws - even the dumb ones - against their friends and allies. Do real cops work that way? Do cops (for instance) work zealously to arrest and prosecute colleagues who commit perjury on search warrants, for instance? Or do they look the other way? And if they look the other way for the benefit of their friends, why not extend that principle and look the other way in the case of sick people taking dope?

    I am aware that the "cop-o-crats," in accordance with the Peter Principle, are not necessarily the most competent and conscientious police officers, but rather the ones with the greatest skill at ingratiating themselves with the powers-that-be. Consider me convinced on that particular issue.

    What are the actual risks of cops joining some group like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition? Is there a risk of their being fired or suffering discrimination? Have you considered publicizing the cases of such cops in forum like this one, so that the government can be shamed or sued into respecting cops' free-expression rights?

  • ||

    This is an honest question:

    Why does Federal law trump state law in this case? Under what Constitutional authority does this hierarchy derive? Does the 10th amendment not specifically reserve the state's right to legislate MJ?

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  • Juanita||

    Why does Federal law trump state law in this case? Under what Constitutional authority does this hierarchy derive? Does the 10th amendment not specifically reserve the state's right to legislate MJ?

    The commerce clause.

  • ||

    "The commerce clause."

    That is what I figured the answer would be. Can somebody direct me to "the commerce clause"?

    Is this it:

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

  • ||

    The War on Drugs is Franklin Roosevelt's fault, and by logical extension, Joe's fault.

    From Wikipedia:

    [edit] New Deal
    The clause was the subject of conflict between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935-37 when the Court struck down several of the President's "New Deal" measures on the grounds that they were not authorized by the powers delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. After winning the 1936 election, FDR proposed a plan to appoint an additional justice for each sitting Justice over 70. Given the age of the current justices this permitted a court population of up to 15. Roosevelt claimed that this was not to change the rulings of the Court, but to lessen the load on the older Justices, who he claimed were slowing the Court down.

    There was widespread opposition to this "court packing" plan, but in the end the New Deal did not need it to succeed. In what became known as "the switch in time that saved nine," Justice Owen Josephus Roberts and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes switched sides in 1937 and, in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, upheld the National Labor Relations Act, which gave the National Labor Relations Board extensive power over unions across the country.

    In 1941 the Court upheld the Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated the production of goods shipped across state lines. In Wickard v. Filburn, (1942) the Court upheld the Agricultural Adjustment Act, stating that the act of growing wheat on one's own land, for one's own consumption, affected interstate commerce, and therefore under the Commerce Clause was subject to federal regulation.

    This change in the Court's decisions is often referred to as the Constitutional Revolution of 1937.[2] This expansion continued largely unabated until United States v. Lopez (1995).

  • R C Dean||

    but it's the DEA's fault, and the indivdual agents fault?

    We should let the agents off the hook because they were "chust followink orders"?

    No thanks. You are responsible for what you do, even if you are an authoritarian thug.

  • robc||

    For whit if he comes back today,

    While it is the legislature's fault for passing bad laws, there is no requirement that the executive actually enforce all the laws the legislature passes. Well, they are supposed to, but as Marbury v Madison showed, the courts cant enforce it. Its up to the executive branch to enforce it. So, if they dont enforce a law, all the legislature can do is ask them nicely (or impeach).

    Both the legislature and the executive are to blame.

    (Note: Thats a very simplistic reading of MvM, but good enough for this situation)

  • x,y||

    It's not the commerce clause, it's the supremacy clause. Article IV, Clause 2:

    "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

  • Robert||

    The sad thing about the DEA knocking over medical marijuana folks like this is that - it's really no challenge. They don't have to work for it.
    Reading article and commentary, one gets the sense that the terminally ill aren't out there concealing the fact they use or grow.
    How hard must it really be for any DEA agent to pad his/her stats by arresting someone that isn't really trying to conceal what they are doing?


    But that's the basis of the "we can't ignore this" remark. They would be considered derelict in their duties if they didn't take documentation that's readily available to them, saying so-and-so is registered with the state and receiving marijuana, and allowed it to take place. Then they're practically ignoring violations "in their face", which looks crooked and possibly corrupt.

    If the person involved had not registered, she'd still be getting her med mj and the feds would not have interfered.

  • ||

    "Juanita | October 31, 2007, 5:15pm | #
    This is a sad outcome, but in balance how many lives are saved by preventing people from using dangerous drugs like pot. It is important to send a clear, consistant, unambiguous "no use" message to protect Americas children."

    Religion kills more kids than illegal drugs. If you really want to protect children maybe you should think about a "no use" of religion message.

  • RED GREEN||

    Bad policy kills. Just like it killed during other "wars". Drug war policy is put forth by ONDCP. The DEA enforces the policy, kinda like the Nazi SS. Who has more pull? The legislative body or the white house? The kill count is just not high enough yet to bring about realisation amoungst the proletariat. If you got "drug war" you got drug war criminals. I know your listening.

  • Goldthwait||

    "The DEA enforces the policy, kinda like the Nazi SS"

    What a great analogy, because as we all know the DEA also executes jews by the millions in its spare time.

  • bopo||

    How pathetic. There are milions of people in this country suffering from chronic pain, the huge majority of which don't have access to or the desire to use medical marijuana. To claim the DEA is responsible for this woman's suicide is absurd in the extreme.

  • rojo de verde||

    The final solution for the war on drugs...stoners in box cars on their way to the ,already in place, incampments. There are, according to DEA records, 93 million ,at one time or another,US partakers. Depriving an ill person of a desired remedy does nothing to help, and everything to further exasperate an already depressed, pathetic individual. No ,the "warriors" did'nt shoot this one.

  • ||

    Looks like another marijuana-related death.

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