Marijuana

17 Times People Freaked Out Over Weed in 2018

These people have no chill.

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Jamie Grill Tetra Images/Newscom

All things considered, 2018 has been a pretty good year for weed in the United States. As Reason's Scott Shackford noted yesterday, Michigan and Vermont both legalized marijuana for recreational use, while Oklahoma, Utah, and Missouri all approved medical marijuana use. Plus, many places are working on expunging the criminal records of those convicted for marijuana-related crimes. And according to a Gallup poll from October, 66 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization.

But it hasn't been all good, man. Around the country, there are policymakers and law enforcement officials who want to keep arresting cannabis users, growers, and sellers, and some of them will say just about anything to preserve the status quo.

Here are 17 of 2018's most ridiculous overreactions to weed:

1. Kansas state rep: Pot is illegal because of African Americans' "character makeup" and "genetics."

Kansas state Rep. Steve Alford (R–District 124) started poorly and just kept digging. "Any way you say it, marijuana is an entry drug into the higher drugs," he said in January. (Spoiler: No, it's not.) "What you really need to do is go back in the '30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs…What was the reason why they did that?" he asked.

"One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that. And so basically what we're trying to do is we're trying to do a complete reverse with people not remembering what has happened in the past."

Everyone in this blog is now dumber for having read that. Sad fact: Blacks and whites currently consume marijuana at similar rates, but blacks are much more likely to be arrested for it.

2. Jeff Sessions falsely claims that opioid addiction starts with weed.

At a Heritage Foundation event in February, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed weed is a gateway drug to prescription opioid and heroin addiction. "We don't think illegal drug use is 'recreation.' Lax enforcement, permissive rhetoric and the media have undermined the essential need to say no to drug use," he said. Sessions went on to point out the relationship between prescription opioid abuse and heroin addiction. "We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs, too," he added.

At the time, Reason's C.J. Ciaramella took note of six studies that say otherwise. You can read about them here.

3. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D–Mass.) suggests legalizing weed would make it harder for authorities to conduct questionable searches.

Before he came out in support of weed legalization last month, Kennedy was not shy about his concerns. Namely, that it would be harder for prosecutors to try cases where cops searched a defendant's car because they smelled weed. "When we decriminalized" weed in Massachusetts, Kennedy told Vox's Ezra Klein in April, "it actually had a pretty big consequence for the way that Massachusetts prosecutors went about trying cases in terms of—because an odor of marijuana was, at last initially, because marijuana was an illegal substance, if you smelled it in a car, you could search a car."

"When it became decriminalized you couldn't do that," he added. "So that was the way that we hadn't—the base case that prosecutors used to search cars for under cover contraband, guns, knives, a whole bunch of other stuff, all of that got thrown out the window."

To paraphrase: The problem with legalizing weed is that it gives police one less reason to harass you.

4. Illinois police dog trainer: Legal weed could force us to kill our drug dogs.

On the list of bad reasons to keep marijuana illegal, this has to rank near the top. According to Chad Larner, training director of a police K-9 academy in Illinois, many K-9 units aren't trained to be social. As a result, legal weed could leave them with little to do, meaning they'd have to be euthanized, as Larner said in May.

Larner's comments sparked a firestorm of controversy. His boss, Decatur Police Chief James Getz, had to assure the Chicago Tribune that "it was a bad choice of words" and that "there are so many uses for these dogs."

5. NYPD officer says lax enforcement of marijuana laws makes him afraid to arrest people for no reason.

It's borderline incomprehensible, but make what you will of this tweet sent out by a New York Police Department (NYPD) union in May:

The officer's complaint appeared to stem from an announcement earlier in the month that the Manhattan District Attorney's Office would stop prosecuting marijuana possession cases. Also, the New York Daily News had reported that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was getting ready to tell the NYPD not to arrest people for smoking weed. As Shackford noted, the man in the photo didn't appear to be harming anyone. The officer seemed to simply be upset that he could no longer arrest people for minding their own business.

6. Michigan police took an 80-year-old great grandmother to jail because her medical marijuana card had expired.

A Clare County sheriff's deputy showed up at 80-year-old Delores Saltzman's porch in June for completely unrelated reasons (Saltzman's great granddaughter had lost her phone and ID). But she smelled weed, and Saltzman's explanation—that she was a medical marijuana patient with an expired recommendation—wasn't good enough. Saltzman was handcuffed and hauled off to jail for the night.

The charges were eventually dropped after Saltzman renewed her medical marijuana card. Still, it's highly troubling that the deputy didn't have the common sense not to arrest a harmless octogenarian for having cannabis in her own home.

7. Pennsylvania police killed a man with a bulldozer over 10 marijuana plants.

In July, Pennsylvania State Police found a 10-plant marijuana "grow" operation on state lands, along with two suspects. When one of the suspects fled into the brush, a trooper commandeered a bulldozer and tried to follow him. At one point, the trooper told the worker driving to stop, which is when they found the suspect's body underneath the bulldozer.

The death was clearly accidental. However, it would not have happened if police had not chased the man with a piece of construction equipment over some weed.

8. New Jersey politician warns that if pot is legalized, dispensaries will sell "sex toy oils with marijuana."

A quick Google search reveals that people have indeed tried infusing sex toy oils with marijuana. New Jersey state Sen. Ron Rice (D–District 28) seemed to think this is a problem. If weed is legalized for recreational use in the state, Rice told NJTV in July, there will "be stores that do retail selling of cupcakes with marijuana, candies with marijuana, sex toy oils with marijuana, lipsticks with marijuana—all those kinds of products that kids can get and people can get."

In an email to the Washington Examiner, he said he was worried about "marijuana infused oils, not toys." Though one has to wonder why he made the connection between sex toys and marijuana oils in the first place.

9. California police chief says legal weed could lead to "arrests and homicides."

The majority of cities and counties in the state have banned weed sales since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. A proposal currently under consideration could remedy this, as it would allow marijuana businesses to deliver weed straight to people's doorsteps, even in places where it's illegal to sell pot.

But Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, president of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA), is not a fan. "This will make it easier and more lucrative to rob a delivery person than a liquor store," Swing told the Los Angeles Times in September, explaining that the proposal would permit delivery drivers to carry as much as $10,000 in cash apiece. "Robberies are the tip of the iceberg. They can lead to other crimes, including aggravated assaults and homicides."

The possibility that delivery drivers will be robbed of cash is a great reason to legalize cannabis banking, which would allow them to conduct transactions the way Uber does. It is a terrible reason to prohibit people from buying pot.

10. Heroic Florida cops prevent a beach-comber from scoring some free weed.

Back in September, roughly 100 pounds of weed mysteriously washed up on several Florida beaches. After Robert Kelley and others tried to take some of the weed off one of the beaches, an onlooker called police. The cops showed up and eventually found 11 pounds of marijuana in Kelley's car. They arrested him and accused him on Facebook of stealing, even though the weed's real owner had yet to come forward. As Reason's Zuri Davis sarcastically pointed out, local residents were able to "sleep soundly…knowing that a hardened beach-comber is off the streets."

11. New Jersey sheriff slams black people for smoking weed.

After New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was sworn into office, Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino disparaged the new governor's January inauguration speech, particularly taking issue with his views on criminal justice reform.

"[Murphy] talked about the whole thing, the marijuana, sanctuary state…better criminal justice reform," Saudino said. "Christ almighty, in other words let the blacks come in, do whatever the fuck they want, smoke their marijuana, do this, do that, and don't worry about it. You know, we'll tie the hands of cops."

Little did Saudino know that his words were caught on tape. His rant was eventually made public in September, prompting him to resign.

12. Jamaican musician gets eight-year sentence for weed he says he bought legally.

After being busted last year while driving though Mississippi with three pounds of weed, Jamaican-American musician Patrick Beadle claimed he had bought the marijuana legally in Oregon. He was eventually charged with drug trafficking (despite little evidence) and convicted in July. In October, Beadle was sentenced to eight years behind bars without the possibility of parole.

Even if Beadle had bought the marijuana illegally and planned to sell it, eight years is a disproportionately long sentence. He did not harm a person nor damage any property. Yet he and his family will lose nearly a decade of his life for the high crime of traveling through the wrong state with several pounds of dried plant matter in his car.

13. Don't legalize weed because, well, children!

A tavern owner in Staten Island, New York, is worried that legalizing marijuana for recreational use will "be a disaster." In an October op-ed for SILive.com, Larry Liedy said he was concerned about the creation of "a drug culture I don't think we are ready for."

"Young people in their early teens, and even younger, will be blatantly subjected to people smoking pot around them. They will be subjected to dealers looking to entice them into the drug world," he wrote. "Do our kids really need more negative influences?"

Liedy also expressed concern that when legal dispensaries close at night, black market "dealers will be out in full force." His argument makes complete sense as long as you don't think about it. "Dealers will be able to raise their prices twice as much as the legal clinics because of the desire and the need to get high. This will create a major profitable black market for the sellers," he wrote. "This creates a field day for the suppliers. Other countries, like Canada, Cuba and Mexico, will be importing illegal marijuana to our borders and ports. We now have a drug culture. Our children will now be in jeopardy."

That's not quite accurate. As Reason's Jacob Sullum pointed out in 2014, survey data from Colorado showed that marijuana legalization did not lead teenagers to smoke more pot. And while it's conceivable that legalized weed could lead to increased underage consumption in some places, that's still no reason to ban it. As Sullum argued in 2016: "If Americans were denied access to everything that is appropriate only for adults, we would all be reduced to the status of children."

14. NASA ordered a SpaceX safety probe because Elon Musk smoked some weed.

In September, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk took a hit from a joint during an appearance on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast. He wasn't breaking the law, as the podcast is taped in California. But his behavior "rankled" some high-level officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), The Washington Post reported last month. The paper said his actions "prompted the agency to take a close look at the culture of" two companies it contracts with: Musk's SpaceX, as well as Boeing.

It's unclear why the safety probe was even necessary. There's no evidence to suggest that Musk or any of his SpaceX employees go to work high. Plus, Musk was merely lighting up (and legally doing so) on his own time. Had he done the same in private (maybe he does, who knows?), NASA probably wouldn't have found out or cared.

15. Comical report says the financial costs of marijuana legalization far outweigh the benefits.

"For every dollar gained in tax revenue," Colorado Christian University's Centennial Institute claimed in a report last month, "Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization."

There are a host of reasons why the report is misleading, which you can read about here.

16. Florida's Joe Arpaio says weed is killing people every day.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd declared on Fox & Friends earlier this month that marijuana is killing people daily. "There absolutely is a price to pay for pot," he said. "It's not a minor, nonviolent felony. It's ruining families and killing people every day across the United States."

Judd provided no evidence to back up his claim, probably because there isn't any. Though it's possible to overdose on weed, the Drug Enforcement Agency said in 2017 that "no deaths from overdose of marijuana have been reported." Judd made some other cringeworthy claims during the segment, which is really worth a watch if you need a laugh. You can read more about it here.

17. Michigan police stole a woman's car over $10 worth of weed.

In July, Crystal Sisson of Detroit visited a medical marijuana dispensary and bought about $10 worth of weed. It didn't take long for Wayne County Sheriff's deputies, who had watched her go in, to pull her over. The cops found the weed and issued her a citation for "illegally occupying a place where controlled substances are sold." They also seized her car, which she had to pay $1,200 to get back. Earlier this month, Sisson filed a civil lawsuit against Wayne County, alleging that her rights had been violated.

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40 responses to “17 Times People Freaked Out Over Weed in 2018

    1. Hey wait a minute!!!

      This “pot” stuff is evil- evil- evil- EVIL, and will one day be the death of us all!!! (If we don’t stop it NOW!) Now hear me out, please, for the sake of us all!

      Because Elon Musk smoked pot on TV, the NASA safety bureaucrats didn’t approve of new space transport for humans. For lack of that new transport, Americans will no longer be able to go to the ISS and maintain it (USA contracts for Russian rocket rides are due to expire soon, and there’s a 3-year lead time on new orders). So in early 2020, the ISS will crash into my house, and kill me, and the gravity-wave transvorbulator that I am secretly working on in my garage in my spare time, will be lost to science. For lack of the the gravity-wave transvorbulator, humans will NOT be able to fend off the near-Earth asteroid that will cream us all in 2032.

      It all started with Elon Musk smoking pot!!!

      The “Reefer madness” movie was correct; pot is the death of us all!!!!

  1. “4. Illinois police dog trainer: Legal weed could force us to kill our drug dogs.”

    Cops need a reason to kill dogs? Is this new?

    1. Nah. Police dogs get the same platinum pensions as human cops, right? Any dog with 3 years of service (padded with extra hours during the last few months), gets 6 figures a year while lying on the beach (or chasing squirrels).

  2. Sex toy oils with marijuana! These kids today.

    1. The NJLP should recruit someone from Nutley, NJ to run against the guy.

      1. It’s a safe DemocRAT seat.

  3. The death was clearly accidental. However, it would not have happened if police had not chased the man with a piece of construction equipment over some weed.

    We all know that it wasn’t because of the weed. It was because of the defiance.

    1. “Accidental” my ass. As presented, this is clearly a case of manslaughter.

      Fleeing cops trying to make an arrest for a minor crime does not provide them with an excuse to use deadly force. Otherwise they’d just shoot everyone who runs away….in the back no less.

  4. Jeebus wtf Steve Alford of Kansas racist much? (R) is for recall.

    1. Well, didn’t/don’t we use the same line of reasoning when it comes to alcohol and native Americans……………..or Irish immigrants for that matter?

      1. as long as I’m not part of “we” knock yourself out

      2. It is for their own good, after all.

  5. If people can decide for themselves, maybe the literature about the health effects will be more objective and won’t be dismissed out of hand as govt propaganda. Assuming there are health risks – I assume there are because nowadays everything is a health risk.

  6. 8. New Jersey politician warns that if pot is legalized, dispensaries will sell “sex toy oils with marijuana.”

    Warns?

    1. feature or bug, in this twisted copper’s dirty mind?

  7. one of the idiotic “reasons” given in the story:
    “What you really need to do is go back in the ’30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs…What was the reason why they did that?”

    Read your history, dood….. Seems a certain chemical company, E. I. duPont du Nemours, had recently developed a new fibre, a synthetic one. Turns out, to their suprise and delight, it was a product far superior to the one used nearly universally in all the marine trades, and others. HOW to force people to leave off using the standard for a hundred years? Simple– outlaw the production and possession of… HEMP. Manila hemp was the superior fibre for cordage, especially at sea. Had been for at least a century. Du Pont wanted to quickly take that off the market and force everyone by default to begin using their new Nylon. SO.. they went to work and got cultivation, possession, use, of hemp in any form outlawed. Tjheir reasons trashed all logic and science, but they had the money to buy whatever they wanted.
    THAT is why cannabis, or hemp, was outlawed, any form of it, for any use. Calling it a “schedule one” drug did the trick, and they concocted enough “evidence” and fairy tales to carry the day in Congress.
    Read the category definition of “Schedule One”, and its laughable. Marijuana/cannabis/hemp no more fits that description than does bacon, and is possibly even less harmful than bacon…….

    1. Mmmmm, bacon…

    2. Schedule 1 didn’t happen until the Controlled Substances act.

  8. the stupud Morgan Hill Dirty Copper said this, struggling mightily to keep a straight face:
    “This will make it easier and more lucrative to rob a delivery person than a liquor store,” Swing told the Los Angeles Times in September, explaining that the proposal would permit delivery drivers to carry as much as $10,000 in cash apiece. “Robberies are the tip of the iceberg. They can lead to other crimes, including aggravated assaults and homicides.”

    1. Well, if your sheriff, the one in Santa Clara County, to issue Mother May I Cards to county residents so they can defend themselves. In MY state, where the stuff is legal, and Mother May I Cards are SHALL ISSUE basis, friend of mine who is a legal grower/producer/manufacturer/distributor delivers product on a regular basis. Met a “buyer” in a hotel’s car park (where he KNOWS surveillance cameras are in use and cops close by) he “marked” the guy’s car, kept driving, then parked. Got number plate, as always. Texted the guy who came, got into his car, pulled a handgun and demnded all the money and weed he had in the car. Picked the wrong guy, this dufus did. My friend is highly trained and skilled, and LEFT HANDED, so drawing from left side gave him a great headshot presentation. He curtly ordered him to GET OUT…. which he did. Before the door had closed all the way he had the cops on 911, description and number plate included. Thjey picked him up within minutes. Friend then went and told the copper HIS side of the story before he’d interviewed the now very dumbfounded putative thief…. Cop said Nice work Sir, thanks. We’ll be taking care of this guy. We’ll get in touch if we need your testimony.

      1. See? Arms in the hands of GOOD GUYS stopped one more potential lethal situation, never shed any blood. Of course ,the Feds would soil their nappies to learn that a man with weed AND a gun at the same time was not charged…… but that’s their problem, and hopefully soon to go away.

        in case anyone is wondering, I do not use the stuff, though there is no question I could get the med card in a heartbeat. And I have conditions that would “justify” its use. Not interested… but this silly nanny prohibition is NOTWORKING and needs to go. Soon. Last year would not be soon enough. Trouble is, a whole lot of federal and state la w enforcement types would be out of a whole lot of “work”. The arrogance, threated misuse of power, stinky attitude revealed in these “reasons” is frightening. Seems most coppers/gummit uffishuls get their jollies arresting , searching, and otherwise harrassing the very ones they are purportedly to serve and protect. Or so it sez on the side of the copmobiles….. even the ones in Morgan Hill. Been a few years but I’ve seen that.. “protect and serve”. What, protect our backsides and serve up a double dose of pain and trouble?

  9. Someone in Seattle is selling MJ sex oil, btw.

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    1. You’re selling marijuana sex oil?

  11. Joe Biden coined the term Drug Czar, after watching the movie Reefer Madness.

    He thought something must be done to warn the youth about the dangerous marijuana plant.

    And today, according to previous Drug Czars, the marijuana is not like the 60s marijuana.

    Oh no, it’s much more powerful and is a gateway drug to LSD, the most addictive drug ever.

  12. Yet more evidence that not smoking weed makes people stupid.

  13. Every one of these fallacies is the desire to point guns at people, kill a few and have the survivors obey you (until they can get you alone). Abettors of these fallacies are the folks who make up cowardly excuses for continuing to throw away votes on the looter kleptocracy–instead of casting a leveraged, law-changing spoiler vote for the Libertarian platform. Le plus ?a cringe, le plus c’est la m?me chose.

  14. Not sure how Libertarianism got reduced to an obsession over legalizing pot. Of course, the government should not interfere with people’s freedom to take drugs and destroy their lives but of all the important issues of our time, legalized pot amounts to nothing. It is very, very easy to grow or get pot whether its legal or not in the state where you live.

    1. 800,000 arrests a year for simple possession seems like a pretty big problem. People lose jobs, money some get jail time.

    2. Yeah, widdle19, the mass violation of the most basic human rights “amounts to nothing”. Ignorant clown.

  15. The guy sitting on the subway steps should have been ticketed for sitting on the subway steps. He may have not harmed anyone but he’s definitely an asshole for blocking the stairs.

  16. The K9 cop’s statement was probably the most honest reason that many are against decriminalization of marijuana. Many people (and not only people) invested in prohibition would lose their livelihoods.

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    1. Prostitution is illegal in my state. Sorry can’t do it.

  18. I was watching a documentary on the History channel and they showed shot from the movie “Reefer Madness”. It was hilarious.

  19. “A tavern owner in Staten Island, New York, is worried that legalizing marijuana for recreational use will “be a disaster.” In an October op-ed for SILive.com, Larry Liedy said he was concerned about the creation of “a drug culture I don’t think we are ready for.””

    HAHA A TAVERN owner is worried about the “drug culture”? More like worried that his business will take a hit!

  20. They need to relax…. Man… 😉

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