Drugs: The Anti-Thug

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Police in Portugal (Europe's most underrated country, as far as I'm concerned) will allow English soccer fans to smoke pot before a game on Sunday, with the goal of keeping potential hooligans too calm to cause trouble:

Pot-smoking fans have been assured they will not be arrested, cautioned—or even have their drugs confiscated.

Says a police spokeswoman: "If people cause a problem through drugs and become a menace then police will take action. But when this doesn?t happen why should the police be the ones making the fuss?"

Well I'll venture the American response: "Because they're the police!"

Link courtesy of Drudge.

NEXT: Tongue Tied

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  1. and the little bubby pipes.

    oh, how i miss suck.com

  2. and the little bubbly pipes.

    oh, how i miss suck.com

  3. Could you image this kind of decree in our free society? Me neither.

    Giving a mob of people permission to do something that's illegal for normal citizens, just so they don't hurt other people? No, I can't imagine that happening in our free society, and I'm glad it doesn't. In our free society, we deal with violent thugs by locking them in prison, not by awarding them special rights and privledges.

    The police are ignoring the law in order to give special rights and privledges to people who threaten the health and property of innocents. You can sugar-coat this all you want, but it boils down to the police saying "We're letting them smoke pot so they don't beat the shit out of people". How the hell is that freedom? That's not freedom, it's fear of the mob!

    Pot should be legal for everybody. But making it legal only for violent thugs is worse than not making it legal at all.

  4. Dan has a point, much as I liked the idea at first.

    It reminds me of that old liberal argument: "If you don't transfer wealth to people, they will riot and you will have to pay for more police anyway. You might as well give them what they want."

  5. Dan - in Portugal, pot is essentially legal. There might be restrictions on it's use in public, which is a restriction on freedom I can't get too worked up about if people can smoke what they want in private.

  6. More than half-pints, I reckon. More like a half-dozen full pints (at 20 oz each, remember, not 16). Half-pints are for girls.

  7. and, to be fair, they're not saying "Only those of you who came to the game to start a riot can smoke pot, but everybody else can't." They're just relaxing the law (or not, I guess, based on the fact that it's pretty lax already) for an particular event in a particular place. Like allowing public drunkeness in Times Square on New Years, but not this afternoon.

  8. I believe a 'bonk-kiosk' is otherwise know as a Hooka.

    /Tomorrow's Technology Today

  9. and, to be fair, they're not saying "Only those of you who came to the game to start a riot can smoke pot, but everybody else can't."

    The police statements make it clear that they're putting this policy into effect as a means of dealing with violent fans. The non-violent fans are along as free riders on a bad policy aimed at other people, basically.

    If Portugal has lax enforcement of pot laws, then good for it. But it still seems to be the case, judging from this article, that the police feel that they *normally* would be arresting or warning pot smokers, and/or confiscating their drugs. So there does seem to be a special privledge being granted here.

    I also generally don't like it when police announce that they're going to stop enforcing a law. That's not really supposed to be one of their powers. Sure, not enforcing a law against pot-smoking is relatively harmless, but it's still a bad precedent. It would be one thing if the police were refusing to enforce the law because they viewed the law as immoral or wrong; I would still have qualms about that, but I'd have some degree of sympathy. But that's not what's happening here. The police are refusing to enforce the law because it makes their job easier. That's not really defensible.

  10. "The police are refusing to enforce the law because it makes their job easier."

    A more generous interpretation might be that they're choosing not to enforce the law in hopes that it will lead to less violence, injuries, property damage, and arrests. It will also make their job easier.

    I can see your point about the selective enforcement of laws and caving in to lawbreakers, but if the difference is between having an implicit policy of looking the other way and having an explicit policy of looking the other way (as it may be based on titus' comment; it's not really clear, and I certainly don't know), it doesn't seem like that big a deal to me.

  11. It looks like:

    Detroit Pistons = European soccer hooligan
    LA Lakers = European shop window

    Someone should start passing out Wacky Tabacky in southeastern Michigan.

  12. Whether an exercise in enhanced freedoms; civility; or an attempt to lessen the strain on law enforcement resources, I hope that the results of this action (or non-action, if you prefer) lead other countries (hint, hint) to open up their minds to the power of the herb.

  13. A more generous interpretation might be that they're choosing not to enforce the law in hopes that it will lead to less violence, injuries, property damage, and arrests.

    That's short-term thinking, though. If you tell a bunch of thugs "ok, we're afraid of you, so we'll relax our laws for you", you're encouraging them to be even more violent in the future.

  14. Dan-

    I understand your point. I don't like backing down in the face of thugs. But given how ludicrous drug prohibition is and how many problems it creates, I have a hard time criticizing any cop who realizes that ratcheting down on prohibition might lead to positive effects.

  15. "If you tell a bunch of thugs "ok, we're afraid of you, so we'll relax our laws for you", you're encouraging them to be even more violent in the future."

    I see your point here too. I think this argument has a lot more validity here than in most other cases I've heard it applied to drug laws. I guess the reason it still doesn't bother me that much is that I'm still assuming it actually represents a very small change in their policy toward pot; they were just more explicit about it in this case. And even though the reason they were more explicit about it is to keep some hooligans from causing havoc, it seems like on the whole it's an improvement.

    Maybe the most immediate unintended consequence will be that all the hooligans get drunk, then get high, then puke all over the place.

  16. The article, as I read it states that after a previous match in the Netherlands in which there was more pot smoking and less drinking, they had much less violence. The police are going to "look the other way" on pot smoking precisely because it is the pot smokers who are NOT causing the problems. The police can spend more of their resources dealing with the drunks that Do cause problems. Sounds to me like a sensible and reasonable response to the situation at hand.
    No, that's not likely to happen here in America anytime soon. Even the mention of Marijuana still sends our politicos and many citizens into a state of insane irrationality. Nobody gets so stoned they wanna fight. The only violence Marijuana causes is when two stoners bump heads diving for the last slice of pizza.

  17. Could you image this kind of decree in our free society?

    Me neither.

    ClearPolitics

  18. Possible Future Headline: Portuguese soccer-related injuries decline 50% among pot smokers.

    I wonder if Congress would accept THAT as evidence of a "known medical benefit"?

  19. This is a shockingly excellent idea, and - in my experience - the only way to truly deal with the British.

  20. Certainly adds a modern perspective to the old cry "Stone them! Stone them all!".
    Sadly, in this once great country, we'll only be hearing "Let he who is without sin be the first to be stoned; all others must take communion"

    Shirley Knott

  21. In case anyone else is as leery of the Sun as I am, see the following corroboration from the Beeb:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3796577.stm

  22. No, I could never imagine that happening in this country. A lot of the Libertarians I know seem so optimistic...I think the statement by ClearPolitics should make you think twice about how far we've really slid down the slope into loss of liberties.

  23. An interesting idea, but English hooligans get their bravery from a half pint. Perhaps "bong kiosks" can be constructed around the event to maximize the calming effect on the crowd.

  24. Reminds me of a Terry Colon cartoon on suck.com:

    Before pot: "I want to fuck shit up! etc."
    After pot: "I want pizza"

    You'll just have to imagine the great drawing with T.C.'s trademark stoned eyes.

  25. Pot, not port?

  26. But given how ludicrous drug prohibition is and how many problems it creates, I have a hard time criticizing any cop who realizes that ratcheting down on prohibition might lead to positive effects.

    Ok, two scenarios:

    Scenario One:
    A cop confronts a man who is smoking a joint. The man indicates that he's a cancer patient, smoking marijuana to reduce his nausea. The cop decides to cut the guy some slack, rather than confiscating the drugs.

    That's certainly a positive effect. I'd have a hard time being too annoyed with that cop. But.

    Scenario Two:
    A cop confronts a man who is smoking a joint. The man says "Well, officer, if you don't let me smoke this joint, I'll drink a bunch of beer instead, and then kick the shit out of random strangers -- hell, I might even thrash a few local businesses. So I suggest you let me smoke this joint."

    I don't see the positive effect there. Pot-smoking is a victimless crime, assault isn't. Giving a man a pass on a victimless crime is one thing, but giving them a pass on a victimless crime just because you think they'll do something *worse* if you don't is quite another.

    As noted astutely by James, they know that pot smokers are less likely to cause trouble.

    Look, it's the same people. It isn't like there's a group of violent beer drinkers, and a group of mellow pot smokers, and the Dutch and Portugese are throwing a bone to the latter. There's one group, which is "violent soccer fans", and empirical evidence has demonstrated that they become less violent if you take away their beer and let them spark up instead. In short, it's a group of people who will break the law in a big way unless you let them break the law in a little way.

  27. DAN: The police are refusing to enforce the law because it makes their job easier. That's not really defensible.

    SinC: As noted astutely by James, they know that pot smokers are less likely to cause trouble.

    Drug laws are different from other police enforcement for the simple reason that there is no complaintant.

    Keeping the peace is a primary function of most police agencies and it appears they've figured out a smart way to increase their odds on success.

    Police in the USA have routinely for decades ignored pot smoking in public settings, namely concerts. In recent years, anti-indoor smoking laws have put a kibash on this but it still goes on, depending on the state (wouldn't recommend it an outdoor show in Florida).

    It's a move the cops and judges in our organization would certainly endorse, since one of our foundation statements is that It's Easier To Overcome An Addiction Than It Is To Overcome a Conviction.

    http://leap.cc/tbay

  28. "Hey Nigel, I bet that there have been soccer games in the past where every player on the field was in exactly the same spot as they were in this game when that goal was scored....God I'm getting hungry...well, look at those lovelies then....ya know, I think that Portuguese girls have better bums than English girls do...lets stroll over and try for some international relations then...now what's the score?"

  29. Dan, your examples pose interesting questions, but they don't accurately reflect what is being done.

    Cops primary function is to keep the peace, not to enforce every violation of the law they see.

    And unlike your one man who tells the cop that unless the cop ignores his minor violation, he will then commit a bigger violation, the 'fans' have made no such premeditated declaration.

    The police are simply acknowledging reality, which is that there is a predictable, measured level of violence which accompanies these events and they have found a creative way to reduce that violence.

    And yes, I'm for that being the case in all jurisdictions.

    If the police can reasonably conclude that permitting an activity that is by definition, consensual adult behavior which does not harm another person or property, in return for reducing levels of actual violent crimes against persons and/or property, I will applaud them every time.

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