While an embarrassing number of Americans still swallow the drug war’s laughably fictitious marijuana prohibition propaganda, SWAT raids to confiscate the plant ludicrously deemed illegal by the State kill people at an exponentially higher rate than weed, itself.
By: Claire Bernish
This article first appeared at FreeThoughtProject
Cannabis has never been the cause of a fatal overdose.
Data amassed by the New York Times “or the most part, governments at all levels have chosen not to quantify the toll by requiring reporting on SWAT operations. But The Times’s investigation, which relied on dozens of open-record requests and thousands of pages from police and court files, found that at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers died in such raids from 2010 through 2016. Scores of others were maimed or wounded.”
Such reprehensible exertion of control through violent tactics seemingly lifted from gestapo manuals — particularly to enforce the much-maligned prohibition of cannabis — was never the intended use of police SWAT. As the Washington Post explains,
“The modern-day SWAT team originated in Los Angeles in the late 1960s as a way to deal with gunmen targeting police officers or civilians. But today SWAT teams are mostly used to handle routine warrant work, especially drug warrants. A 2014 ACLU study found that nearly 80 percent of SWAT deployments were to serve search warrants. Just 7 percent of SWAT deployments involved ‘hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios.’”
A patchwork of state laws now govern the legality of the plant falsely classified as lacking any medical value, as a Schedule 1 substance, by the FDA and Drug Enforcement Agency — whose own website hypocritically also states, “No death from overdose of marijuana has been reported” — making it possible to buy weed in a store in one state, and die because of it just over state lines.
Although debate furiously ensues over whether suspect or cop is to blame when headlines detail the latest traffic stop turned fatal shooting by police, in door-smashing SWAT raids, police always act as the aggressor. With adrenaline heightening fear and sometimes clouding threat perception — and inexplicable administrative mistakes, such as incorrect address — uninvolved parties pay the price with disquieting regularity.
“Innocents have died in attacks on wrong addresses, including a 7-year-old girl in Detroit, and collaterally as the police pursued other residents, among them a 68-year-old grandfather in Framingham, Mass.,” reports the Times. “Stray bullets have whizzed through neighboring homes, and in dozens of instances the victims of police gunfire have included the family dog […]
“In a country where four in 10 adults have guns in their homes, the raids incite predictable collisions between forces that hurtle toward each other like speeding cars in a passing lane — officers with a license to invade private homes and residents convinced of their right to self-defense.
“After being awakened by the shattering of doors and the detonation of stun grenades, bleary suspects reach for nearby weapons — at times realizing it is the police, at others mistaking them for intruders — and the shooting begins.”
Contrary to the Times’ intimation, officers regularly shoot first — first, that is, if the subjects of the raid even possess weapons, or, if they do, regardless of whether or not they take aim at officers.
Innumerable tales of SWAT raids gone horrifically awry detail State-sanctioned maimings, the utter annihilation of property, slaughter of family pets, stray bullets finding unfortunate targets, and other gruesome outcomes — all for nonviolent crimes involving ostensively illicit substances the State made verboten for Americans it must condescendingly view as incapable of self control.
But times — and the national attitude toward weed — are changing. Over half of the states in the nation have shirked federal law in favor of medical cannabis, and eight states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use. Americans who believe the ban should be lifted in some way increase in number each time a survey assesses the national attitude toward the beneficial plant.
The United States undeniably failed in its bellicose campaign to eradicate ‘evil’ marijuana, but — as ineffective yet profitable policies go — cannabis prohibition remains official federal law.
A prime example of the inanity of profit-seeking trumping the prudence of lifting the ban on cannabis comes from a 2013 SWAT raid recounted by the Post, in which an informant — considered almost wholly unreliable in multiple analyses — snitched on Henry Magee for allegedly possessing 12 cannabis plants.
“Groggy and disoriented by the commotion” of a pre-dawn, door-busting police raid, the Post reports, “Magee grabbed a semi-automatic rifle and began firing in the direction of the door that the officers had just battered down. His live-in girlfriend, four months pregnant at the time, thought they were being robbed.
“When Magee and his girlfriend heard the police announce themselves, they immediately surrendered. By then, police investigator Frederich Sowders lay dead on the floor. They later recovered 10 marijuana plants and 4 ounces of dried marijuana from his home.”
A grand jury acquitted Magee of capital murder.
“All of us felt that if I were in bed and heard anything that made me get up and get a gun, and all of a sudden my door explodes in, I’m shooting,” one juror told the Times, adding in disbelief, “Why in the world would you do a full-out assault on a guy growing pot?”
This article first appeared at FreeThoughtProject