A Michigan man came forward this week with his story of police abuse, and unfortunately, it sounds all too familiar.
According to Rudy Simpson, police raided his home for marijuana based on an anonymous tip and a marijuana stem supposedly found in his garbage. The police found a quarter ounce of marijuana, 12 alleged marijuana seeds, and half of a pill for which Simpson produced a prescription.
Apparently, this was all the justification the police needed to confiscate three pages worth of Simpson’s personal property under Michigan’s asset forfeiture laws, including musical equipment, televisions, DVDs, computers, and other electronics. State law allows authorities to confiscate any materials paid for with profits from drug sales, based only on probable cause. No evidence was ever produced to link Simpson to any marijuana sales, yet his property was seized anyway. According to Simpson, the officers acted like “thugs,” eating food out of his refrigerator and trashing his home during the raid.
Unfortunately for the cops, they raided the home during a band rehearsal, and were unaware that the entire incident was being recorded. This included the police testing their vocal skills on the mic, then openly talking about which of Simpson’s belongings they and their team leader wanted to take! (Follow the first link of this post to listen.)
It turns out this particular unit made quite a bit of money by confiscating big-ticket items during routine, low-level drug busts, either keeping the items or reselling them illegally. The head of the unit, Luke Davis, is currently under indictment for corruption.
This is just another sad example of one of the more insane aspects of the war on marijuana users. Thousands of people have had their homes and belongings stolen by law enforcement, without due process, never to be returned. Some of these people were never even officially charged with a crime or were found not guilty of the charges, but in most cases, the police still sold the property and kept the proceeds!
We live in a great nation. We also live in a nation where the people who are supposed to protect you can kick your door down, terrorize your family, shoot your dog, and take your land and property — all because they think you have some plant matter that is safer to use than alcohol. And there isn’t much you can do about it.
This is why all Americans need to support ending marijuana prohibition: It is simply un-American.
Earlier this summer, a Phoenix marijuana deal went bad and resulted in the deaths of three people. Now, details have been released about the investigation that led up to the massacre. After being connected with a group of buyers through a confidential informant, police planned to sell 500 lbs. of marijuana (seized in previous investigations) for $250,000. During the deal, something went wrong and shooting started.
Many words come to mind when considering this horrible event, which ended with a detective dead and two more wounded, as well as the deaths of two suspects. Tragic. Wasteful. Heroic. For me, one word stands above the rest: avoidable.
The simple fact is that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in regulated industries. When was the last time you heard about a liquor store owner gunning down the delivery driver to avoid paying the bill? As seen during alcohol prohibition – most notably in Chicago during the reign of Al Capone – illegal markets that have no legal means to resolve disputes inevitably produce violence. Once the product is brought into a regulated market, the violence disappears almost overnight.
In a society that taxes and regulates marijuana like alcohol, few of our law enforcement officers will end up murdered over a couple of bales of plant matter.