Marijuana

Police Union Chief Claims That Lax Marijuana Enforcement Killed a College Freshman

Tessa Majors may have been on way to buy illegal pot when she was stabbed to death. But if that's true, it's an argument against prohibition, not for it.

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Last week, an 18-year-old freshman student at Barnard College named Tessa Majors was stabbed to death in a Manhattan park. The New York Police Department (NYPD) believes the killer is a 13-year-old middle school student they have yet to locate. The police have talked to two other middle schoolers who were present at the crime.

Now the head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, Ed Mullins, is attributing the death to New York's lax enforcement of marijuana prohibition. He told a radio program:

What I am understanding is that [Majors] was in the park to buy marijuana….We don't enforce marijuana laws anymore. We're basically hands-off on the enforcement of marijuana. I understand the mayor made statements that this is surprising on how this can happen in New York City….I really have to question what world he's living in to think that this is surprising, when we are watching the city slowly erode, with shootings, stabbings, an increase in homicides and, most importantly, a hands-off policing policy.

In such statements, you hear the dying echoes of what might be called the "Reefer Madness mindset," in which devil weed is the source of all forms of evil and criminality, even when it remains illegal.

New York has a medical marijuana exemption but it is still prohibited under state law to sell, buy, transport, or grow marijuana. Since 2014, the NYPD has been instructed by Mayor Bill de Blasio not to arrest most people found carrying or smoking pot, even when such use breaks "public view" laws that were routinely invoked to arrest people under the old "stop and frisk" procedures. Since August, possession of under two ounces of marijuana has been a non-criminal, ticketable offense in New York City.

The city's violent crime levels have remained basically constant in recent years. Through the end of November, the city recorded 299 homicides, up from 275 over the same period last year. Overall, the crime rate was down 1 percent compared to last year. Homicides in New York City peaked at 2,245 in 1990 and this year's rate remains on par with rates last seen in the early 1950s. New York's current population is a record high of 8.6 million.

Regardless of the legal status of pot in the Big Apple, does Sgt. Mullins seriously believe that crime and violence around marijuana would increase if it could be purchased legally, like beer, wine, and whiskey? There are still stickups and shootings at corner delis and liquor stores, but no one attributes such crimes to alcohol's legal status. A major 2017 study found that states on the border between the United States and Mexico that legalized medical marijuana saw decreases in violent crime between 5.6 percent and 12.5 percent. This fall, a study of crime in California and Washington state found that "legalizing recreational use of the drug appeared to have little to no effect on the number of violent and property crimes." A 2013 study by Rand Corporation for the Office of National Drug Control Policy concluded that "marijuana use does not induce violent crime" and "the links between marijuana use and property crime are thin."

The full story surrounding Tessa Majors brutal and senseless killing has yet to emerge—including definitive proof that she was trying to buy marijuana. But whatever details come out, it's hard to see how they will support the idea that maintaining a black market in pot sales will somehow generate less crime and violence than a legal one.

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  1. For somebody who heads the Sergeants Benevolent Association, he doesn’t sound very benevolent.

    1. I think the name indicates benevolence to its own members.

  2. Lax enforcement? Who’s in charge of enforcing the laws, Officer? Are you making a murder confession here? If you’re blaming your boss the mayor for making the laws too lenient, that’s not lax enforcement but it is insubordination.

    Don’t be blaming lax enforcement for your inability to enforce the laws the way you think they should be enforced – you’re obviously an asshole and the exact reason police are not allowed to enforce the law as they think it should be written rather than the way your boss thinks it should be. I’m pretty sure if you had your way, enforcement would include no references to the Bill of Rights or police accountability, either.

    1. It’s almost as if there are so many laws that the cops can’t enforce them all. Too bad most people interpret that to mean not enough cops, instead of too many laws.

  3. I’m perfectly happy throwing a union chief under the bus, but there is some room for interpretation in the statements quoted in this article, and there is at least one possible spin that I agree with.

    If he is saying that a ‘look the other way’ policy when enforcing laws is in effect and that weakens the enforcement of all laws, I fully agree.

    1. Maybe but few are also asking the death penalty for jay walking either. everyone is aware of levels of criminality murder is definately more criminal than buying pot

    2. I am not sure that it weakens the enforcement of all laws. If anything, it could be used to divert resources to enforcement of laws that actually have victims.

      1. OTOH the “we won’t arrest you for possessing pot, but we will bust you if you buy or sell it” dilemma doesn’t lead to “let’s meet someplace public and safe for our transaction and I’ll pay by credit card instead of bringing cash.”

    3. Wouldn’t looking the other way for laws with no victim mean they have more time to enforce laws that do have a victim?

    4. Fully enforcing unpopular laws also weakens enforcement, but more to the point, it increases disrespect for the law and law enforcement.

    5. Prohibition crashed the economy as soon as enforcement began in 1920-21. Americans responded by shooting dry agents and hardening the black market by including cops in it. The Anti-Saloon League and Wizened Christian Temperance Union shrieked that saving the economy by nullification was baaad. So the lame duck congress increased penalties and handed Bert Hoover that club to wield against felony beer and the rum devil. That was the last republican elected until 1952. Bad laws make cops and politicians easy targets.

    6. “”If he is saying that a ‘look the other way’ policy when enforcing laws is in effect and that weakens the enforcement of all laws, I fully agree.””

      I wonder if Jeff Sessions thinks the same about federal weed laws.

  4. if legal she’s not buying from 7th graders in Central Perk

    1. It wasn’t Central Park, it was Morningside Park, which is and has always been FAR more dangerous than Central Park.

  5. “Policeman dilutes the moral responsibility of the killer, blames society and the mayor instead.”

    1. It’s New York. The killers are known but not identified (racially) , everyone there will blame society including the Mayor. Since it’s Central Park 5 – 2, they’ll blame Trump too and maybe that statue of Columbus..

  6. I think Yang’s Freedom Dividend is the solution to stopping a lot of violent crime.

    1. Handing people money will make them not want pot?

      1. They can find a better, less stabby, class of dealer.

  7. We might as well blame the fact that she was in college, or that she lived in New York. What if she had been going to a drug store to buy birth control, and got mugged on the way? Would we then ban birth control, or ban drug stores?

  8. Cops sure are good at trying to avoid personal responsibility. Somebody stabbing her is what killed her.

    1. Were the cops busy elsewhere, stealing, um… asset-forfeiting money from some unarmed hippie while men with knives stabbed girls?

  9. So has it become OK to blame the victim? Are we really good with this? Officer Mullins’ public comments—based on hearsay—are ignorant at best. This park is less than a ten minute walk from Barnard, running the length of several blocks; students from local colleges cut through it all the time. Majors could have been there for any number of reasons, none of which justify her murder.

    1. Hearsay is better than the truth these days.

  10. Y’know: if buying pot was legal in NYC, maybe we wouldn’t have anyone going into the parks, or even shadier locales, to score some weed.

  11. No, lax marijuana laws did not kill that young woman.
    Three young black animals did. In truth racism was the reason why they attacked and murdered her. They were going to cut the white out of her.
    For that Police Union chief to say what he did simply makes excuses for these little animals.
    There is no excuse for making such excuses.
    The attack was based entirely on racial hatred by three fatherless little animals.

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