Killed Over Pot
How activist support of hard drug regulations for cannabis will virtually guarantee a continuation of the ongoing police shootings and killings over small-time pot crimes.
By David Malmo-Levine
“You have a right not to be killed. Murder is a crime – unless it was done by a policeman …”
– The Clash, “Know Your Rights”, Combat Rock, 1982
The “activists” who say pot should be treated like a hard drug
I was reading an online article by pot lawyer Kirk Tousaw the other day, which made the argument that Health Canada should – among other things;
“Amend the marketing and advertising rules to allow cannabis to be treated more like beer and wine than tobacco and pharmaceuticals.” (1)
I really don’t understand why so many pot activists are dead set on the view that cannabis should be compared to – or regulated like – one of the hardest drugs on Earth. With the exception of cigarettes, alcohol has the greatest number of drug-related deaths attached to its use, both globally (2) and in North America. (3)
Cannabis harms are closer to caffeine harms than alcohol in terms of overdose and overuse deaths, acute toxicity, withdrawal symptoms and dependence, (4) so if we’re looking for a more reasonable regulation model for cannabis to follow, the fair trade organic coffee bean model is the one that fits cannabis the best.
Image: The New York Times, August 2nd, 1994
Nobody gets arrested over coffee or caffeine, but youths can still be arrested for possession of alcohol, (5) and people – especially non-whites – can and do get arrested for “public intoxication”, (6) which can run nearly the full spectrum of sobriety, depending on how dickish or racist the arresting officer may be.
Also, you can sell coffee at a bake sale or garage sale or farmer’s market without “training” or a license, but try that with alcohol and you run the risk of being arrested. (7) The odds that an arrest will lead to an accidental death are always greater than zero, and in North America, the odds are far greater than they need to be.
The only reason I can think of to argue for hard drug regulations for a soft drug like cannabis is to make sure that the exclusivity (a limited numbers of retail and production licenses) built into the current forms of cannabis legalization in North America remain intact. But that can’t be it, can it? I mean, who would sacrifice the lives of pot users, growers and dealers just to make money? Certainly not Kirk Tousaw, whom I do respect, have worked with for years, and have had to turn to in order to get out of jail on at least one occasion.
Image: Instagram, Kirk Tousaw
But Kirk keeps posting photos on Instagram of these massive indoor and outdoor grow operations he seems to be involved with, (8) while the post-legalization arrests continue unabated with no pot lawyers that I know of doing anything about it, in spite of there being both valid constitutional and valid non-constitutional arguments to make against the current pot cartel, (9) so it makes it hard to see him as an anti-exclusivity, anti-cartel pot activist, much as I would like that to be the case. Every time another illegal grow gets busted, that’s one more competitor Kirk and his friends don’t have to deal with. Why on earth would they want to trade that situation for the fair trade, organic coffee bean regulations?
Image: Instagram, Kirk Tousaw
Admittedly, in his blog, Kirk argues for fewer barriers to growing, selling, and using cannabis. But why should there be any barriers at all? And doesn’t equating cannabis with a hard drug like alcohol increase the likelihood of there being at least some arrests? From what I understand, U.S. coffee bean regulations are not enforced by the “ATF” – just alcohol, tobacco and firearms regulations. We don’t need to add coffee beans or cannabis to that list. We don’t need a ATFCC. We don’t need a SWAT team to deal with herbal medicines or coffee beans that have killed few – or in the case of cannabis zero – people.
Post-legalization prohibition in Canada and the US
And make no mistake about it, the pot arrests do continue. In the 2.5 months following “legalization”, Canadian police made hundreds of arrests for cannabis possession, cannabis production, cannabis smuggling, cannabis distribution, cannabis sale, and “other”. According to the Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction, there were 308 arrests in Canada for growing cannabis between Oct. 17th and Dec. 31st. 2018. (10)
And that pace has increased. In fact, in less than four months, the Ontario Police made 195 arrests and netted 122,000 illegal cannabis plants – an average of about 625 plants per arrestee. (11)
In the United States, non-white pot arrests began to increase from legalization onward in four states that had legalized. (12) In Colorado, white youth cannabis arrests went down 10% while black youth cannabis arrests went up 50% after legalization. (13) In Albany, New York, where cannabis is “decriminalized”, black people comprised 97% of cannabis arrests and fines between July of 2019 and July of 2020 – in spite of black people representing under 30 percent of Albany’s population. (14)
The thing is, if we keep treating cannabis like a hard drug, we will never get rid of these hard drug regulations, which are doing two things:
- They justify the over-regulation of industrial hemp, which helps to keep hemp ethanol from competing with – and replacing – the fossil fuels and non-renewable energy that is causing climate destabilization and a forest fire season that gets worse every year.
- They justify continued arrests of harmless people – mostly poor people and non-white people – for bullshit pot “crimes” – mostly petty, small-time, trivial pot crimes. And all too often, these arrests result in the police shooting and/or killing the arrestee.
I’ve covered #1 quite extensively in an article I wrote last year. (15) Let me share with you some examples of #2 now. Most of these examples come from the United States – because, firstly, their population is ten times bigger than Canada, and because, secondly, their culture of authoritarianism and police brutality is dialed a bit higher than Canada’s. But each country has an effect on the other, in both the bad examples of policing and persecution we provide each other, and the good examples of progressive legislation that, occasionally, we each manage to manifest.
Dead Canadian victims of cannabis prohibition
Consider Daniel Possee, a 22-year-old shot and killed by the North Vancouver RCMP. On May 12th, 1992, four West Vancouver police raided a North Vancouver basement suite to execute a search warrant looking for “2.2 pounds” of marijuana. (16)
Image: Vancouver Sun, May 15th, 1992, p. 1
Daniel Possee was the son of Derek Possee, a local soccer star of the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team. The police ended up finding just 15 grams of pot in the suite. Daniel Possee’s name wasn’t even on the warrant. The target – Daniel’s sister Kelly – wasn’t home that day.
Image: Vancouver Sun, May 22nd, 1992, p. 4
Daniel was caught with a Crosman 2100 Classic pellet rifle in his hands, made to look like a pump-action shot gun – he was shooting it for target practice. The first report in the media two days later claimed the police “shot him once in the chest with a 9-mm pistol”. (17) The description of being shot “in the chest” was later changed to “a bullet struck him in the left side” after an inquest had examined the case more carefully. (18) Had there not been an inquest, it would have been unlikely that the fact that Possee wasn’t even facing the police when he was killed would have been made public. This wasn’t self-defence, this was another trigger-happy cop.
Image: Vancouver Province, November 19th, 1992, p. 5
The shooting was the third police shooting in North Vancouver in the previous 26 months. North Vancouver RCMP Cpl. Glenn Magark shot an unarmed 18-year-old burglary suspect in January, 1992, and a 32 year old man in the chest during a drug raid who had a remote control in his hand that Magark thought was a weapon. (19)
Early reports claimed that Kelly Possee and her boyfriend were “heavily involved in the sale of illicit drugs”. (20) During the inquest, it was revealed that “The couple were non-violent and didn’t own guns, police were told”. (21)
Image: Vancouver Province, November 19th, 1992, p. 5
The real tragedy was that, in spite of the unnecessary prohibitive drug laws themselves being blamed in multiple opinion editorials and letters to the editor (22) for the unnecessary death of Daniel Possee, the drug laws were never mentioned in the inquiry into his death. The official inquiry, prompted by the death of Possee and others, begun in December of 1992, headed by BC Supreme Court Justice Wally Oppal, was limited to;
“… how police use deadly force, how they handle complaints and how they respond to women, natives, and other ethnic groups. Oppal will also consider the use of guns by security firms.” (23)
Those who claim that we can’t explore the validity of the cannabis laws themselves do a disservice to people like Daniel Possee, his family, and the future victims and future victim’s families of the pot laws. Those who advocate for future pot arrests have blood on their hands.
One of the most horrible aspects of the entire tragedy was how the West Vancouver police chief tried to blame the tragedy on pot users in general, and Daniel Possee in particular. He was set straight in the letter pages of the Province newspaper;
“With reference to the death of Daniel Possee, West Vancouver police chief Hal Jenkins says, ‘my reaction to it is this thing, tragic as it is, is really a casualty of the illicit use of drugs.’ This policeman adds insult to fatal injury, not only to the Possee family but to all citizens who deplore the use of guns in police raids involving marijuana cases. The father is right. The young man was killed by a bullet, not by a puff of smoke. The attitude of the police chief who is blaming this young man’s death on the ‘illicit use of drugs’ bespeaks a continuing danger that these shooting still continue. Chief Jenkins is wrong. Dead wrong.” (24)
Not including the untold number of cannabis criminals who have died in jail or prison while serving time for pot offences, Canada has had at least one other death over a tiny amount of cannabis. Bony Jean-Pierre, a 46-year-old black man who was involved in a small scale cannabis distribution network was shot by police in Montreal in 2016, (25) while the newly-minted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (who was elected with pot legalization as a major part of his platform) was taking his sweet time figuring out how to carve out a pot cartel for him and his friends instead of legalizing it “in a way that suits Canadians broadly”, like he promised to do during the election. (26)
Bony Jean-Pierre certainly didn’t sound like the tough-as-nails gangster the police pretend justifies our current post-legalization pot prohibitions;
“Arrested in Montréal-Nord on March 31 for conspiracy, possession and trafficking of narcotics, François saw closely the intervention that led to the death of Bony Jean-Pierre , then to riots in the borough. Party of poker with his band, narcotics and, above all, fear of dying: he tells of this disastrous day. … On the program, every day: poker, dice, video games and marijuana. François rejects the idea of an important place to sell drugs. ‘It was a betting house, no traffic. Everyone came with their consumption or we helped out. We bought the pot elsewhere. There are no citizens who came to ask for drugs. But there was a lot of back and forth, even taxi drivers who came to play.’ It is in front of this accommodation that Bony Jean-Pierre will eventually die.” (27)
And it certainly doesn’t matter to Jean-Pierre’s friends and family that the police were using “less-lethal” (28) rubber bullets to enforce these soft-drug regulations. Jean-Pierre caught a rubber bullet in the head while climbing out of a second-floor window, fell to the ground, and died of his injuries in the hospital several days later. (29)
Dead U.S. victims of cannabis prohibition
In the US, the number of people shot and/or killed during marijuana law enforcement activities – some of them since 2014, when cannabis legalization began to become a reality for many Americans – is ridiculous. And infuriating. And the number of examples seems endless – limited only by one’s capacity to search for – and stomach – story after story of injustice and murder.
On June 11th, 2010, Trevon Cole was shot and killed by police, while unarmed and with his hands in the air, while attempting to flush a small amount of cannabis down the toilet. Police, who were there looking for marijuana after buying it from Cole previously, justified the shooting by claiming Cole made a “furtive movement” towards them. (30) The “furtive movement” claim turned out to be false:
“The cop would claim Cole ‘lunged’ at him. It was a claim that would be contradicted after the physical evidence was collected.” (31)
To make matters worse, the police were pursuing the wrong Trevon Cole:
“As it turned out, Las Vegas Metro wasn’t even pursuing the right Trevon Cole that night. The man they carried a warrant for had a longer criminal history, a different age and physical description.” (32)
The family of Cole brought forth evidence that the cops in the raid wouldn’t have been armed if they weren’t planning to use the raid for an episode of “cops”, that they weren’t properly trained, and that they may have been drinking and using racial slurs during the operation. (33)
Instead of being charged with murder or even fired, the police officer who killed Cole first got put on “desk duty”, (34) and then got promoted to be in charge of the local police union. (35)
Trevon Cole’s story is by no means an isolated case. On top of the glaring injustice of having been killed over a herb that has never killed anyone, there’s additional injustices – the circumstances usually involve non-white victims, often unarmed, and always a complete and total lack of accountability for the “honest mistake” or “justified killing” made by the police.
On February 2nd, 2012, unarmed black teen Ramarley Graham was shot to death in the Bronx “while he attempted to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet.” (36)
On March 7th, 2012, another unarmed young black man, 20-year-old Wendell Allen, was shot and killed by New Orleans narcotics officers serving a search warrant for marijuana. (37)
On July 31st, 2012, Miami Drug officers shot and killed Gerardo Delgado, 56, the operator of a marijuana grow house. (38)
Another black teen, 17-year-old Jaquaz Walker, was shot and killed on June 18th, 2013 in a cannabis drug-sting gone bad. (39)
On August 19th, 2013, 22-year-old Travis Miller was shot and killed after fleeing a traffic stop where the police smelled marijuana. He apparently fired shots at the officers. Miller had recently been released from prison, and perhaps he felt it was such a horrible place that risking death – or murder – to avoid it was a reasonable course of action. (40)
On November 13th, 2013, 17-year-old Jonathan Santellana was killed by an off-duty police officer who thought Santenllana had marijuana on him. A witness claimed the cop didn’t identify himself, and by all accounts looked menacing even without a gun, so the family believed their son attempted to flee what must have seemed like a robbery, and was shot in the back and in the back of the head while fleeing. (41)
Image: The State, Columbia, South Carolina, September 12th, 2015, p. A3
On September 6th, 2014, 19-year-old Zachary McDaniel died at a local hospital after he swallowed five baggies full of marijuana while being arrested on suspicion of stealing a car. He choked on the fifth baggie and suffocated. (42)
On March 4th, 2015, a Volusia County sheriff’s deputy on a dawn SWAT team pot raid shot and killed Derek Cruice, 26 – an unarmed resident of the home. Eyewitnesses said Cruice didn’t resist or threaten. Police recovered 217 grams of marijuana, a scale, pipes, plastic bags and about $3000 in cash. No weapons were found at the scene. (43) A grand jury declined to indict the officer on manslaughter, but Cruice’s family was given $500k as a “payout” – “to show his life was not wasted” said one of those who approved the payout. (44)
On April 2nd, 2015, 17-year-old Hakeem Kuta fell six stories from the rooftops of a Bronx tenement house and died. He fell while fleeing from police who were in pursuit of Kuta and other teens because of suspected marijuana smoking. (45)
On July 26th, 2015, 19-year-old Zachary Hammond was shot in Seneca, South Carolina, during an undercover narcotics operation that targeted his passenger. Hammond was unarmed. The officer who shot Hammond “claims that Hammond accelerated turning toward the officer, although this is not supported by the dashcam video.” The case is a good example of the corruption typical of too many “narcotics investigations”;
“Police contend that Hammond was under the influence of cocaine at the time of his death. However, in a lawsuit filed against Tiller and the Seneca Police Department, testimony suggests that cocaine was planted on Hammond’s body after he had been shot and dragged from his car. Following the shooting, Hammond’s passenger was issued a summons for possession of 10 grams (0.35 oz) of marijuana. Police allege that she had planned to sell it to an undercover officer who had set up the deal.” (46)
On June 14, 2016, in Chula Vista, California, an undercover ICE agent shot and killed Fernando Geovanni Llanez, 22, as agents met with a half-dozen suspected marijuana traffickers in an apparent buy-bust deal at an Eastlake-area strip mall. The parents of Llanez claim he was shot in the head while he was already on the ground. (47)
On July 6th, 2016, police shot and killed Philando Castile, 32, because the police “smelled marijuana” and Castile “ignored commands”. (48) The officer tried to portray Castile as too high to follow his confusing and conflicting commands, but if you watch the dashcam video and his girlfriend’s phone video, he was clearly going for the wallet the officer asked him to produce. Had the officer said “freeze” instead of “don’t reach for it (your gun)”, Castile would probably be alive today.
On August 30th, 2016, 22-year-old Levonia Riggins was shot and killed in a drug raid in his home in Clair-Mel City – right next to Tampa, Florida. Police were executing a search warrant, looking for marijuana and weapons. Riggins was unarmed. Police found 2 grams of marijuana on him. A state attorney’s review ruled the shooting justified. (49)
On September 20th, 2016, Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old African-American man, was fatally shot in Charlotte, North Carolina, by Brentley Vinson, a police officer who “observed Scott rolling what they believed to be a marijuana ‘blunt’.” In November 2016, county prosecutors decided not to charge Vinson, concluding that the shooting was justified. (50)
On November 1st, 2016, police shot and paralyzed Jerime “Danky” Mitchell after a traffic stop. Police say they smelled marijuana and then tried to arrest Mitchell and then a “fight ensued”. (51) Mitchell’s lawyer believes there may have been a cover-up. Police admit to the officer who shot Mitchell having “turned off his body microphone during a traffic stop to hide something and then lied about it” two days before shooting Mitchell. The dash camera video of when Mitchell was shot also had no audio. The police claim that it wasn’t working, but haven’t said why. Mitchell asserts the police are supposed to check their recording equipment every day before going to work. (52)
On July 9th, 2018, Gregory Longenecker was run over by a bulldozer driven by a Pennsylvania State Trooper in pursuit of Longenecker through dense brush. Longenecker was suspected of being involved in a 10 plant marijuana grow operation. (53) Longenecker’s family was given a $475,000 settlement for the killing. (54)
Image: L&C Daily: The Trial of Amber Guyger – Remembering Botham Jean, Law & Crime Network youtube.com/watch?v=rLnIOztbSBw
On September 6, 2018, white off-duty Dallas Police Department patrol officer Amber Guyger mistakenly entered the Dallas, Texas, apartment of black 26-year-old accountant Botham Jean and fatally shot him, thinking she was in her own apartment, directly below. The police immediately looked around for items to smear Jean with, and found 10.4 grams of marijuana. The police found the cannabis of the innocent victim relevant to the murder investigation, but they found racist social media posts of the murderer/cop to be irrelevant. (55)
Image: Family Devastated After 18-Year-Old Man Killed In Deputy-Involved Shooting, CBS Los Angeles youtube.com/watch?v=JkWV9PrN1MY
On June 27th, 2019, 18 year-old Paul Rea was killed for running from the police. He was a passenger in a car that was pulled over after allegedly running a stop sign. The police accused the driver of being high on marijuana, and threatened to kill the driver unless he exited the car. The police lied about Rea attacking them, it was later discovered, after the surveillance video revealed Rea’s actual actions. (56)
On September 5th, 2019, St. Louis police shot and killed Cortez Shepherd after attempting to arrest him for marijuana possession. Police say Shephherd was shot for reaching for the gun in his pocket, but his family disputes the police’s version of the event, and wonders why he was arrested for so little marijuana in the first place. In St. Louis, less than 35 grams gets you a maximum $25 dollar fine. Police refused to say how much marijuana Shepherd had. (57)
On December 23rd, 2020, a man named Terry Bagget, age 42, of Baker, Louisiana (a suburb of Baton Rouge) died while in custody for “distributing marijuana”. His death is under investigation. (58)
On January 13th, 2021, Delaware police found Lymond Moses, age 30, asleep in his vehicle. They found marijuana in his car. Moses drove away instead of following instructions to “hop out”. Police fired on him as he fled, killing him with a shot to the head. Then the police lied in the inital report, claiming he “drove at a high rate of speed directly at the officers”. This was later contradicted by the police bodycam video, only released after pressure from the family and civil rights groups. (59)
On March 14th, 2021, Marvin David Scott III, a 26-year-old black man was arrested for “less than 2 ounces of marijuana”. While in custody Scott was pepper-sprayed, assaulted and restrained during a schizophrenic episode. He died from this abuse, and his death was ruled a homicide. (60)
By my count that makes it 22 Americans and 1 Canadian killed over pot in the last 11 years – over two pot killings by police per year. And that’s just the ones that were easy to find. This list of injustices was by no means exhaustive, but it was exhausting having to read story after story of the shocking, painful, bloody genocide of the herbally autonomous, so this author had to quit before he could amass a more comprehensive list. If we included all North American drugwar police killings involving all illegal drugs, this article would be 20 to 30 times bigger.
The stopthedrugwar.org website publication “Drug War Chronicle” tallied 63 drug war deaths in 2012. Eight of the dead were law enforcement officers. Of the 55 civilian deaths, only two resulted in an officer being charged. (61)
Early in 2017, Drug War Chronicle did an overview of their yearly tallies of drug war deaths:
“The good news is that drug war deaths are down slightly from last year; the bad news is that people are still being killed at the rate of about once a week, as has been the norm in recent years. There were 49 people killed in the drug war last year. This is the sixth year that Drug War Chronicle has tallied drug war deaths. There were 54 in 2011, 63 in 2012, 41 in 2013, 39 in 2014, and 56 in 2015, That’s an average of just a hair under one a week during the past six years.” (62)
The folks at the Drug War Chronicle website were just looking at the United States. If we look at the worst offender at the moment – the Philippines (historically, a “proving ground” of drug prohibition policy for the United States) (63) one can witness an example of the worst-case scenario for drug prohibition – including cannabis prohibition – unfolding in real time.
Dead Filipino victims of cannabis prohibition
Between 2002 and 2006, “Possession of over 500 grams of marijuana usually earned execution in the Philippines”. (64) But things have gotten much, much worse, since the current head of state of the Philippines – Rodrigo Duterte – was elected President on June 30th, 2016. Right off the bat, his death squads began killing those suspected of drug crimes. Any drug crimes.
The Nightcrawlers Trailer | National Geographic, Aug 28, 2019 youtube.com/watch?v=spcaIArivrs&t=40s
Image: Philippines President likens himself to Hitler, wants to kill 3 million drug addicts, Euronews, Sept. 30, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Efx6_rXzVMw
By September of 2016, he was comparing himself to Adolf Hitler, and drug users as Jewish scapegoats:
“There are 3 million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them. If Germany had Hitler, the Philippines would have…” [points at himself] (65)
“urged members of the public to kill criminals and drug addicts. Research by media organizations and human rights groups has shown that police routinely execute unarmed drug suspects and then plant guns and drugs as evidence. Philippine authorities have denied misconduct by police.” (66)
Image: Duterte’s Philippines drug war death toll rises above 5,000, 19 Dec 2018 theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/19/dutertes-philippines-drug-war-death-toll-rises-above-5000
Credible estimates for the number of dead killed in Duterte’s drug war range from at least 12,000 to a likely 30,000 or more between June 2016 and July 2020. (67) That averages out to around 3000 to 7500 or more killed every year, and it’s getting worse every year.
And we’re not just talking about hard drugs, either;
“And while most victims of Duterte’s ‘drug war’ allegedly used shabu (a methamphetamine), many used or sold marijuana.” (68)
For example, Angelo Lafuente, 23, was executed by plainclothes police for the crime of saving up and borrowing $300 dollars to bail out his father who was in jail for possession of marijuana. The police say the $300 dollars was missing from his pocket, but they found meth there instead. (69)
When asked if he would legalize cannabis for medical purposes, Dutuerte “joked” about using marijuana himself, but promised he would never legalize it even for medical purposes, because people with no medical need would use it and claim, falsely, they were using it medicinally:
“I don’t want to. You will just use that as an excuse to plant your own. You will just say, this is just for medicinal purposes.” (70)
The Philippines Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) insists that marijuana is dangerous, “just like cocaine and opium” (71) and the Philippines Drug Enforcement Administration has put pressure on Philippine musicians to stop making music that could be interpreted as pro-marijuana. (72)
That last tactic sort of reminds me of that section of the Canadian Cannabis Act that prohibits presenting cannabis
“… or any of its brand elements in a manner that associates it or the brand element with, or evokes a positive or negative emotion about or image of, a way of life such as one that includes glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring.” (73)
Both genocidal cannabis prohibitions and cannabis cartels require cannabis to be seen as a vice and not as a relatively harmless medicinal herb with health benefits for both sick and healthy people, for both old and young people. Genocidal cannabis prohibitions and cannabis cartels are both built on the exact same lies.
Countries with the death penalty for cannabis trafficking
So far we have just looked at police killings over pot in three countries: Canada, the U.S. and the Philippines. There are currently 8 countries that have the death penalty for cannabis trafficking: Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, China and the USA – although an official execution of a cannabis trafficker has never been imposed in the USA (74) – just all those “accidental” or “incidental” or “totally justified” unofficial executions by the police mentioned above.
Countries without any type of arrests for cannabis offences
Currently every country on Earth still arrests people for some type of pot offence – even the few states or countries that have “legalized” cannabis. As long as you can be arrested for a cannabis crime, there is always a risk of being killed during the arrest. And add to this injustice is the injustice of an arrest itself – which is all-too-often terrifying and traumatic – especially for non-whites, who are more likely to be killed. (75)
Then there’s the further injustices of the fines, the time consuming court cases, the expensive lawyers, the jail time, and the lingering effects of a conviction – being denied educational and vocational and travel opportunities, and the stolen medicine and stolen money and wasted time and broken relationships one can never get back again.
On top of all this there are the police officers killed over pot – such as Anthony Gordon, Lionide “Leo” Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann, the four RCMP officers killed in the Mayerthorpe tragedy in 2005, shot while executing a search warrant for stolen property and a marijuana-growing operation (76) or Sergeant Investigator Fredrich Adam Sowders, who was shot in 2013, as he served a no-knock warrant at 5:30 am, looking for marijuana plants and guns. (77)
And then there’s the murder of Rachel Hoffman in 2008, a 23-year-old woman who was found to be in possession of small amounts of cannabis, and because she was afraid of doing time over it, she was pressured by police to act as an informant in a dangerous drug sting that went horribly wrong. (78)
None of these horrible killings by police – or by those defending themselves from police – needed to happen. There is no harm caused by cannabis that can justify an arrest. We need to stop arresting people for cannabis – period – and move to a regulatory regime that doesn’t involve arrests. Otherwise, two or three more people will die over cannabis this year in North America. And then two or three next year. And then two or three the year after that. And so on. And so on. Until climate destabilization or genocide of the herbally autonomous destroys civilization entirely.
And, in the mean time, thousands will die every year in other countries from executions and extra-judicial killings. Perhaps one day tens of thousands. Or hundreds of thousands.
What it will take to stop all cannabis arrests
To get to the point where all cannabis arrests end, at the very least, we need cannabis activists united in calling for soft drug regulations – regulations similar to fair trade organic coffee bean regulations. If we can’t have that, then, at the very least, we need to consider those who call for cannabis to be regulated like hard drugs as something other than pot activists. If they’re not outright cartelists, they are aiding and abetting the cartel – they’re accessories after the fact. Their greed is killing people, and their betrayal of their own community is real.
Kirk Tousaw justified hard drug regulations for pot by saying he didn’t want his 10-year-old buying a 100 mg brownie and overdosing. He then deleted that statement from Instagram before I could get a screen shot of it. But 10-year-olds overdosing isn’t really happening all that often now with caffeine and it’s unlikely to with cannabis if it were regulated in a similar fashion. But Kirk forgets two things when he makes this argument. 1) His 10-year-old would not die from that brownie overdose, and 2) his 10 year old might grow up into a 17-year-old that dies from a cannabis arrest gone wrong.
Kirk’s need to maximize his investment in his legal pot operations is blinding him to the danger he puts his own children in – and everyone else’s children in, too. Kirk might have other reasons to support hard drug regulations for cannabis but he didn’t bother to share them. Kirk can pretend his investments have nothing to do with his drug policy advocacy choices, but I can’t pretend along with him. There’s only so many “look at how big my garden” videos I can watch while the murders of the less-well-connected cannabis criminals continue unabated. Kirk quit the movement when the job was only half done. Kirk needs to spend some of his pot profits on finishing the job, or activists will continue to use him as a good example of a bad example.
We need to stop all drug possession arrests, and all cannabis-related arrests of any type. It must begin with cannabis, because it’s the illegal drug with the least amount of stigma. If it doesn’t happen in Canada first, it’s unlikely to happen anywhere else. The rest of the world looks to us to set an example to follow – not just in drug policy, but in human rights issues in general. Perhaps our reputation as a progressive country is undeserved, but maybe we can change that. Maybe California or Colorado has that progressive reputation too, but there’s not too many – or not enough – activists calling for soft drug regulations for cannabis there, either. So it looks like the burden is on us Canadians once again. Let’s start calling for soft drug regulations for cannabis now – today – so we can avoid unnecessary suffering and death as soon as possible, both ecologically speaking, and in terms of how the police treat us.
1) Kirk Tousaw: An Open Letter To Health Canada on Personal Medical Cannabis Production, Part 2, May 13th, 2021 https://cannabishealth.com/kirk-tousaw-medical-cannabis-production-part-2/
5) “(Young people) can be arrested under the Liquor Licence Act if the police feel that they need to find out your correct name and address, if you are intoxicated in public or a place ‘used in common by others’, and it is necessary for the safety of any person.” https://jfcy.org/en/rights/
“Kirk is a leading cannabis advocate and lawyer who has been actively involved in pushing for the modernization of cannabis policies. He has extensive experience defending those charged with cannabis offences and has also worked with organizations across the cannabis industry. In 2013, Kirk was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his work on behalf of medical cannabis patients and providers. ‘I’m excited about helping Canopy Growth as they enter the existing and vibrant industry here in BC. As we move toward a legal cannabis market, I think long-time advocates have a responsibility to help guide the evolution of the industry and I really appreciate the opportunity to do that with Canopy.’”
Building the West Coast team and welcoming Kirk Tousaw and Mat Beren to the Canopy Growth family, NEWS PROVIDED BY Canopy Growth Corporation Jun 25, 2018
10) Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, Cannabis, p. 13 https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2020-05/CCSA-Canadian-Drug-Summary-Cannabis-2020-en.pdf
11) Ontario police seize over $143M worth of illegal cannabis plants in under four months Katherine DeClerq, CP24.com, October 22, 2020 https://www.cp24.com/news/ontario-police-seize-over-143m-worth-of-illegal-cannabis-plants-in-under-four-months-1.5156164
16) “Dad demands answers”, The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 15th, 1992, p. 4
17) “Shooting victim described as a great kid who respected police”, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 14th, 1992, p. 3
18) “A knock could have saved Possee”, The Province, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, November 20th, 1992, p. 2
19) “Police suspected sister of trafficking in drugs”, The Vancouver Sun, May 15th, 1992, p. 20
20) “VICTIM’S SISTER WAS RAID TARGET”, The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 15th, 1992, p. 1
21) “I pulled trigger as gun swung toward us”, The Province, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Nov. 19th, 1992, p. 5
22) “Shooting demands a tough look at Canada’s drug laws”, Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, May 20th, 1992, p. 14; “ANTI-DRUG LAWS TO BLAME FOR POSSEE’S DEATH”, The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, June 5th, 1992, p. 53; “Marijuana ban’s cost”, Times Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, June 18th, 1993, p. 4; “Body rights”, Times Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia, August 5th, 1998, p. 11
23) “Attendance sparce for police inquiry”, The Province, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, December 8th, 1992, p. 4
24) “SLAIN BY BULLET, NOT DRUGS”, Peter C. Ritchie, Vancouver, The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, October 28th, 1992, p. 32
25) “Bony Jean-Pierre, 46, has died of his injuries after he was shot by police during a drug raid in Montreal North last Thursday.” “Bony Jean-Pierre, man shot during Montreal North drug bust, has died”, CBC News, Apr 04, 2016 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-north-drug-raid-1.3520308
28) “They are a less lethal alternative to metal projectiles, but can still cause serious injuries such as blindness, permanent disability, and death.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber_bullet
29) “Bony Jean-Pierre, a 47-year-old Black man, was shot in the head by a rubber bullet by the tactical squad of the Service de la police de Montréal (SPVM) in Montréal-Nord over the weekend. He died this morning in the hospital. It occurred during a minor drug-bust, and numerous witnesses he was un-armed and posed no physical threat to law enforcement. Since the story broke, media have already begun to justify the violent intervention and resulting fatal injury because marijuana was found at the site.” https://robynmaynard.com/another-black-life-taken-by-the-montreal-police-collateral-damage-in-a-racist-war-on-drugs/ https://www.pyriscence.ca/home/2020/5/29/cdnpolice
Montreal police officer charged in fatal shooting of Bony Jean-Pierre in 2016 drug bust Christian Gilbert accused of manslaughter and aggravated assault Laurène Jardin, Kalina Laframboise · CBC News · Posted: May 24, 2017 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/jean-pierre-bony-spvm-police-montreal-manslaughter-1.4129272
Police officer acquitted in fatal shooting of Bony Jean-Pierre in Montréal-Nord Gilbert was charged with manslaughter after he shot Jean-Pierre with a plastic bullet in 2016 CBC News · Posted: Feb 04, 2021 https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/police-officer-christian-gilbert-acquitted-death-bony-jean-pierre-montreal-north-1.5900792
Death of Bony Jean-Pierre The prosecution will not appeal the acquittal of the police officer, March 3, 2021 https://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/justice-et-faits-divers/2021-03-03/mort-de-bony-jean-pierre/la-poursuite-ne-fera-pas-appel-de-l-acquittement-du-policier.php
30) “Inquest set in police shooting of Trevon Cole June 30, 2010 Cole was unarmed and in his bathroom when he was shot by a Las Vegas police officer who was serving a search warrant at his apartment on East Bonanza Road. Officer Bryan Yant shot Cole once in the head with an AR-15 rifle. A medical examiner ruled Wednesday that the gunshot killed him. Cole’s fianceé, who was in the apartment, said Cole had his hands up when he was shot. Police said in a statement that Cole made a ‘furtive movement’ toward the officer. Police, who were looking for marijuana after they said they bought the substance from Cole three times, said Nellis Air Force base investigators also were at the scene when the warrant was served.” https://www.reviewjournal.com/news/inquest-set-in-police-shooting-of-trevon-cole/
KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas – Trevon Cole https://www.lagomarsinolaw.com/ktnv-channel-13-las-vegas-2/
31) Las Vegas Metro Police Appear To Change the Conversation About Police Abuses https://www.lvcriminaldefense.com/las-vegas-metro-police-appear-change-conversation-police-abuses/
Yant testified at a coroner’s inquest that when he kicked open the bathroom door, Cole was squatting in front of the toilet, and that Cole stood and brought his hands up to a firing stance while holding a shiny object that Yant thought was a gun. Other officers described the action as a “furtive movement.” Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens disputed Yant’s account, noting that the evidence suggested an accidental discharge. Raid Of The Day: Trevon Cole, 21, Killed During Pot Raid, Radley Balko, HuffPost, 05/10/2013 https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/raid-of-the-day-trevon-co_n_3254784?ri18n=true
32) How one of the deadliest police forces in America stopped shooting people, Daniel Hernandez, December 4, 2015 https://qz.com/565011/how-one-of-the-largest-police-forces-in-america-stopped-shooting-people/
33) The complaint alleges the raid at Cole’s apartment was a stunt set up for filming purposes by Langley Productions as part of the reality series. Langley Productions is responsible for reality shows such as “Cops” and “Las Vegas Jailhouse.” “It makes for better television to show an armed raid rather than a routine arrest,” the lawsuit states. “As a result of this policy, practice and custom, Trevon Cole lost his life.” … The lawsuit also claims “it was a policy, practice and custom for certain members, including higher ranking officers, of Metro to drink alcohol while they were working and investigating alleged cases, including the case of Trevon Cole.” The Cole family also noted in the lawsuit that the narcotics detectives who are not SWAT officers trained to execute such search warrants mishandled the raid. Metro changed that policy in the wake of the Cole shooting, now requiring any search warrant requiring the use of force to be done by SWAT officers. In addition, the lawsuit accuses the defendants of causing harm to Cole and Pearce, who was home at the time of the shooting, based on their race. An officer interviewing Pearce after the shooting allegedly “used the racially linked phrase ‘baby daddy’ when referring to Trevon,” according to the lawsuit. Family of Trevon Cole files civil rights suit against Metro Jackie Valley Wednesday, April 20, 2011 https://lasvegassun.com/news/2011/apr/20/family-trevon-cole-files-civil-rights-suit-against/
34) KTNV Channel 13 metro accused of killing an unarmed man https://www.lagomarsinolaw.com/ktnv-channel-13-metro-accused-of-killing-an-unarmed-man/
35) “In other cities, an officer who kills an unarmed man under suspicious circumstances and is accused of lying to cover his tracks might be prosecuted. In Las Vegas, Yant kept his job. And he’s taken on a role that will make him more influential at Metro. The officer, infamous for the 2010 killing of Trevon Cole, a small-time marijuana dealer, is doling out advice in his new job as a union director in the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.”
Las Vegas cop behind controversial killing now influential union leader, MIKE BLASKY LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL September 21, 2014 https://www.reviewjournal.com/local/local-las-vegas/las-vegas-cop-behind-controversial-killing-now-influential-union-leader/
36) Ramarley Graham, Unarmed Teen, Unlawfully Shot By New York Police, Lawyer Says 02/09/2012 “Ramarley Graham died last Thursday after Richard Haste, 30, a New York police officer, entered his grandmother’s apartment and shot Graham in the chest while he attempted to flush a bag of marijuana down the toilet. Graham was unarmed and police did not have a warrant to enter the home.” https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/ramarley-graham-new-york-police-_n_1266715?ri18n=true
Unarmed Teen Shot in the Chest in Front of His Mother https://yourblackworld.net/2012/02/04/unarmed-teen-shot-chest-front-mother/
Video shows Ramarley Graham taken from his apartment after he was shot by police Sep 29, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtCeH3N–dk
37) DA Releases Video Of Wendell Allen’s Murder By Cop [VIDEO] Written By NewsOne Staff Posted September 15, 2013 https://newsone.com/2718839/wendell-allen-joshua-colclough/
NOPD ignored, mischaracterized evidence in officer-involved shooting, monitor finds Andy Grimm, NOLA.com | Times-Picayune PUBLISHED AUG 4, 2015 https://www.nola.com/news/crime_police/article_0c2b50a5-d83a-5743-b9fe-dd6799d4667c.html
NOPD fell short during drug raid that killed 20-year-old Wendell Allen, report says, Jacqueline Mazur, Aug 4, 2015 https://wgno.com/news/local/nopd-fell-short-during-drug-raid-that-killed-20-year-old-wendell-allen-report-says/
Family of Wendell Allen heartbroken after seeing camera footage from 2012 raid Aug 5, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDHoBUORUIE
Family of Wendell Allen, who was killed by cop, calls for criminal probe of NOPD officers, Andy Grimm, Times-Picayune, AUG 5, 2015 https://www.nola.com/news/crime_police/article_bf5c156c-cfcc-5dca-be90-6f7543d9c4d8.html City of N.O. pays $250K to family of Wendell Allen over fatal shooting The city of New Orleans is paying $250,000 to the family of Wendell Allen to settle the lawsuit stemming from Allen’s fatal shooting, December 4, 2015 https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/investigations/mike-perlstein/city-of-no-pays-250k-to-family-of-wendell-allen-over-fatal-shooting/289-46084231
“The police discovered about 4.5 ounces of marijuana;” WENDELL JAMES ALLEN (1992-2012) POSTED ONSEPTEMBER 30, 2017, EUELL A. NIELSEN https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/allen-wendell-james-1992-2012/
38) JULY 31, 2012 — MIAMI Drug officers were following up on a tip about a marijuana grow house operating in a quiet west Miami-Dade neighborhood. https://projects.tampabay.com/projects/2017/investigations/florida-police-shootings/database/935/
39) Family outraged over teen’s death, CMPD says it had no choice, Brigida Mack, June 18, 2013 “Chief Monroe also told WBTV the shooting involved a marijuana drug deal between an undercover officer, informant and two teenage suspects.” https://www.wbtv.com/story/22623749/suspect-identified-after-teen-fatally-shot-in-drug-sting-at-elementary-school/
CMPD: 2 shot during undercover drug buy in northeast Charlotte, Mark Becker, June 18, 2013 https://www.wsoctv.com/news/local/police-two-shot-northeast-charlotte-school/334928319/
Teen’s pot-bust death shows need to end drug war, John Grooms, Aug 8, 2013 “At the time, Walker was with Davion Drayton, also 17. According to police investigators, the pair met an undercover officer and an informant to conduct a pot sale; things went south, police investigators say, and one or both of the teenagers fired at the officer, who returned fire and killed Walker. Drayton was not injured. Now, at Walker’s family’s request, the SBI will investigate the shooting; the results of the SBI probe will be given to the DA’s office, which will decide whether to take the case further.” https://clclt.com/theclog/archives/2013/08/08/teens-pot-bust-death-shows-need-to-end-drug-war
Family outraged over teen’s death, CMPD says it had no choice https://www.wbtv.com/story/22623749/suspect-identified-after-teen-fatally-shot-in-drug-sting-at-elementary-school/
Charlotte officers cleared in teen’s shooting death during drug buy “CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An investigation has concluded two Charlotte police officers did nothing wrong when they shot and killed a teen during an undercover drug deal earlier this year. The Charlotte Observer reported that Mecklenburg District Attorney Andrew Murray has told Police Chief Rodney Monroe that a State Bureau of Investigation review found no wrongdoing by the officers.” https://www.wxii12.com/article/charlotte-officers-cleared-in-teen-s-shooting-death-during-drug-buy/2052713
40) Police release video after man killed in officer-involved shooting Live 5 News Web Staff | August 20, 2013 https://www.live5news.com/story/23178916/sled-investigating-hanahan-shooting/
South Carolina Man Is Latest Drug War Fatality by psmith, August 22, 2013, https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2013/aug/22/south_carolina_man_latest_drug_w
41) “Garza claims he saw the teenager inside his car putting a ‘green leafy substance’ into a prescription pill bottle, according to an expert’s report on the incident (it’s unclear from the record and past reports whether police ever found drugs on Santellana).” Does This Guy Look Like a Cop? MICHAEL BARAJAS | NOVEMBER 18, 2015 https://www.houstonpress.com/news/does-this-guy-look-like-a-cop-7934863
Parents want grand jury to review son’s death in officer shooting – again Monday, November 16, 2015 https://abc13.com/navasota-off-duty-police-officer-grand-jury-teen/1087224/
“At the time, investigators said Garza worked security there and told them he saw suspicious activity, possibly involving drugs, in a parked car.” Navasota officer won’t face charges for fatally shooting teen By Tom Abrahams Tuesday, August 26, 2014 https://abc13.com/navasota-officer-no-bill-ray-garza/281936/
Texas teen shot to death by police officer who suspected marijuana possession In Navasota, Texas in 2013 a 17-year-old boy, Jonathen Santellana, was shot 7 times by an off duty police officer who suspected Jonathan of marijuana possession. Navasota Police Chief Shawn Myatt told local media that off-duty patrol officer, Rey Garza, encountered 17-year-old driver, Jonathen Santellana of Houston, Texas. He was driving with a 17-year-old female inside the vehicle. The officer said he “suspected” one or both of them had “illegal drugs.” Later, it was clarified that Officer Garza thought the youth had marijuana. www.texasmarijuanapolicy.org/texas-teen-shot-to-death-by-police-officer-who-suspected-marijuana-possession/
42) Report: Deputies acted ‘according to the law’ after man who ingested drugs dies in custody By Rachael Myers Lowe firstname.lastname@example.org SEPTEMBER 11, 2015 https://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article34953768.html
Officials: Man choked to death on a bag of weed, September 11, 2015 https://www.wistv.com/story/30011738/officials-man-choked-to-death-on-a-bag-of-weed/
Man shot in face by Volusia County deputy dies, Sheriff’s Office says https://www.wesh.com/article/man-shot-in-face-by-volusia-county-deputy-dies-sheriff-s-office-says/4440573#
Derek Cruice: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, Apr 17, 2015 https://heavy.com/news/2015/03/derek-cruice-killed-police-shooting-shot-florida-volusia-deltona-todd-raible/
One of the men inside the home, 24-year-old Matthew Grady, contradicted deputies’ claims that Cruice had resisted arrest. “There’s a couple of seconds between opening the door, walking out, getting to my knee and halfway out there’s gunfire,” Grady told My News 13. “I look back as the guy’s grabbing me, and my friend is dead or dying.” When asked if Cruice resisted, Grady said: “No.” Roommate Steven Cochran said Cruice wasn’t wearing a shirt at the time of the shooting, and didn’t pose a threat of carrying a concealed weapon. … The sheriff’s office allegedly recovered 217 grams of marijuana at the home, along with a scale, pipes, plastic bags and about $3,000 in cash. https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/entry/derek-cruice-shot-in-face_n_6805902?ri18n=true
44) Deputies knocked on the front door and someone opened the door a few inches before shutting it, according to Sheriff Ben Johnson. Raible kicked the door open and went inside. The deputy saw Cruice’s “left hand and right shoulder move forward with his left hand extending toward the deputy’s chest. Believing Mr. Cruice was armed and threatening, Deputy Raible discharged his weapon,” deputies wrote. But it turned out Cruice had no weapon. There was a porch light on but it was dark inside, deputies said. A grand jury declined to indict Raible of manslaughter after two days of deliberations in October. Johnson wrote in a statement after the ruling that although Cruice was not armed, the shooting was still justified. “Given the rapid flow of events, Investigator Raible had no more than 3-5 seconds to decide on a course of action,” Johnson wrote. “Unless put in that same position, no one can possibly know what that’s like.”
$500K payout offered after deputy kills unarmed man By DAVID HARRIS STAFF WRITER | APR 19, 2016 https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-derek-cruice-volusia-settlement-20160418-story.html
Nejame said no one can place a value on the young man’s life, but believes the county settlement, which is more than the statuatory cap, is a fair one and will allow Cruice’s family to move forward. “It allows them enough to create a memorial in his name and to keep his memory alive and to show his life was not wasted,” Nejame said. Volusia County approves settlement in fatal shooting of unarmed man https://www.wesh.com/article/congress-set-to-confirm-bidens-electoral-win-over-trump/35137046
45) Police have said Kuta appeared to have misjudged a ledge while backing away from approaching officers as they attempted an arrest of a group allegedly smoking marijuana.
Teen Dies After Fall From Bronx Roof April 4, 2015 https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/04/04/teen-dies-after-fall-from-bronx-roof/
Relatives deny Kuta was part of the group smoking pot, and his father insisted Saturday that the teen did not “do drugs.”
Bronx teen who fell 60 feet off rooftop while fleeing police dies By TANISIA MORRIS, BARRY PADDOCK, KELDY ORTIZ and LARRY MCSHANE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | APR 04, 2015 https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx-teen-fell-60-feet-rooftop-dies-saturday-article-1.2173465
Dashcam footage shows police shooting of Zachary Hammond – video https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2015/oct/27/dashcam-footage-police-shooting-zachary-hammond-video
Parents of Man Killed During Drug Sting Sue Feds June 16, 2017 JON CHOWN SAN DIEGO (CN) – The parents of a young man shot to death last year during a federal drug sting claim in court the Homeland Security agent who killed their son shot him in the head when he was already on the ground. https://www.courthousenews.com/parents-man-killed-drug-sting-sue-feds/
Man killed by federal agent was cross-border resident By PAULINE REPARD JUNE 17, 2016 https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-homeland-security-officer-shooting-2016jun17-story.html
Jiminez v. United States https://casetext.com/case/jiminez-v-united-states-8?resultsNav=false
One dead, 5 arrested in Eastlake undercover shooting Jun 14, 2016 https://www.10news.com/news/chula-vista-police-respond-to-shots-fired-in-eastlake-area-061416
Homeland Security Investigations agents involved in shootings nationwide, Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, Feb. 24th, 2020 https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/ahwatukee/2020/02/24/homeland-security-investigations-agents-involved-shootings-nationwide/4853637002/
48) Officer wants charges in Castile’s death dismissed, saying he was high on marijuana “In documents filed Wednesday to support the motion to dismiss charges, attorneys for Yanez argue that the autopsy conducted on the 32-year-old Castile indicated he had high levels of THC, the chemical found in marijuana, in his blood. As such, the documents argue, Castile ignored Yanez’ commands and stared straight ahead during the traffic stop and was culpably negligent in the incident. … The documents supporting dismissal of charges against Yanez say that Reynolds admitted to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension officials that she and Castile were both marijuana ‘smokers’ and had smoked marijuana before being stopped. ‘Her statement corroborates Officer Yanez’s observation that the smell of marijuana permeated the Castile automobile,’ the documents state.” https://www.bemidjipioneer.com/news/4180589-officer-wants-charges-castiles-death-dismissed-saying-he-was-high-marijuana
2016 Drug War Killings RSS Feed for this category How Reefer Madness Helped Kill Philando Castile by psmith, June 28, 2017, 03:38pm, (Issue #979) The Minnesota cop who was acquitted last week of killing Philando Castile used the fact that he smelled marijuana in the car as part of his defense. Whether Officer Jeronimo Yanez really believed Castile’s presumed pot use made him more dangerous or whether the testimony influenced the jury’s decision to acquit remains unknown, but its use in his defense illustrates the enduring power of the demonization of the plant and its users. … Yanez didn’t mention marijuana in Reynolds’ video, but in court transcripts of his testimony, Yanez said he opened fire on Castile in part because he could smell marijuana — and he assumed that Castile had been using it in front of the child. “I thought I was gonna die and I thought if he’s — if he has the guts and audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke, and the front seat passenger doing the same thing, then what — what care does he give about me?” Yanez said. The argument apparently is that smoking pot in front of kids makes you a stone cold killer. Never mind the hyperbole of “risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her second-hand smoke,” in Yanez’s mind, someone who would smoke pot around kids is not only endangering their lives, but would be willing to kill a cop over a pot charge or a broken taillight (the original reason for the traffic stop), and that justifies pumping Castile full of lead. Police did later find traces of marijuana in the vehicle, and defense attorneys used that and the marijuana smell to also insinuate that Castile was so high he was slow to comply with Yanez’s demands. That made Yanez even more suspicious, the defense claimed. But Yanez’s claims about secondhand smoke border on the bizarre. Yes, ingesting secondhand pot smoke can be harmful, but secondhand smoke is quite different from intent to harm a police officer. And the most notorious source of unwanted secondhand smoke is cigarettes, yet no one insinuates that smoking them around kids makes you more likely to be a cop-killer. Yanez and his defense attorneys were singing a Reefer Madness tune with this claim. Despite Yanez’s claims and phobias, pot smokers are no more likely to behave violently than non-users, and in fact, some research shows they are less likely to. A 2014 study in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors found that marijuana use among couples was associated with lower risk of domestic violence. Philando Castile was black. That was strike one. He was armed (and admitted it). That was strike two. And he was a pot smoker. That was strike three. Reefer Madness, either in the mind of Officer Yanez or the minds of the jurors, or both, helped kill Phil Castile. https://stopthedrugwar.org/es/taxonomy/term/260
Combined videos show fatal Castile shooting, Jun 21, 2017, CNN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85Y_yOm9IhA
49) Friends, family say unarmed man shot by Hillsborough sheriff’s deputy was more than just his rap sheet Anastasia Dawson and Times Staff Writer Published Sep. 8, 2016 https://www.tampabay.com/news/obituaries/friends-family-say-unarmed-man-shot-by-hillsborough-sheriffs-deputy-was/2292633/
Murder in Service of the Drug War: The Passion of Levonia Riggins by Raeford Davis | Oct 22, 2016 https://libertarianinstitute.org/blog/murder-in-service-of-the-drug-war-the-passion-of-levonia-riggins/
Sarasota State Attorney rules fatal shooting by deputy justified, Dan Sullivan, Tampa Bay Times, Nov 9, 2016 https://www.theledger.com/news/20161109/sarasota-state-attorney-rules-fatal-shooting-by-deputy-justified
First video of Keith Lamont Scott shooting incident Newsroom Cell phone video shows the moments before and after Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by Charlotte police. Source: CNNhttps://www.cnn.com/videos/justice/2016/09/23/charlotte-keith-lamont-scott-cell-video.cnn/video/playlists/charlotte-police-shooting-protest/
Family of Keith Lamont Scott Release Video of Fatal Encounter with Police, Sep 24, 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnfckcIGYU8&list=PL_HCS8eu7UkyngP4h_GhuerO8kLwXpfqo
51) A year later, in November 2016, Officer Jones shot Jerime Mitchell after a traffic stop. Dash camera video in that incident showed Jones pulling over Mitchell’s vehicle for a burned-out license plate light. Officer Jones said he smelled marijuana and tried to arrest Mitchell and then a fight ensued. Police later said they found marijuana in the car and in Mitchell’s system. The video shows Mitchell get back in his vehicle and try to drive away with Officer Jones caught in the door. Officer Jones shot Mitchell before falling to the side. Mitchell was paralyzed from the bullet and crashed into parked vehicles up the road. A grand jury cleared Officer Jones of wrongdoing even though Linn County Attorney Jerry Vandersanden presented the case without interviewing Mitchell about what happened, claiming Mitchell and his attorneys were uncooperative with attempts to question him. Cedar Rapids police officer involved in two shootings fired from department Adam Carros Published: Jun. 18, 2020 https://www.kcrg.com/2020/06/18/cedar-rapids-police-officer-involved-in-two-shootings-fired-from-department/
52) CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – The lawyer for a man shot by a former Cedar Rapids Police officer during a traffic stop altercation said he believes there may have been a cover-up. Jerime Mitchell is paralyzed from that shooting on November 1, 2016. This month, Cedar Rapids Police fired Lucas Jones, the officer who shot him. Police said Jones had turned off his body microphone during a traffic stop to hide something and then lied about it. That incident took place just two days before the shooting involving Mitchell. Here’s why that’s important: This dash camera video of when Jones shot Mitchell has no audio with it. Mitchell and his attorney are suing the city. Police said Jones’ microphone wasn’t working, but have not said why. Mitchell and his attorney, Larry Rogers, Jr., have always disputed Lucas Jones’s side of the story. They don’t think it’s a coincidence that there’s no audio of the incident, something Mitchell wondered last week even before the new information came out. “I don’t understand why his equipment wasn’t working when you’re supposed to check that stuff out every day before you go to work,” Mitchell said, in an interview from more than a week ago. Jerime Mitchell’s attorney reacts to the firing of officer who shot Mitchell Phil Reed Published: Jun. 30, 2020 https://www.kcrg.com/2020/07/01/jerime-mitchells-attorney-reacts-to-the-firing-of-officer-who-shot-mitchell/
53) Police Kill Man with Bulldozer over 10 Marijuana Plants – Drug war absurdity meets police recklessness. SCOTT SHACKFORD | 7.16.2018 “On July 9 a state worker on a bulldozer was clearing out some brush to improve hunters’ access to state lands. He saw a suspicious car off the road and called the cops. When law enforcement came out to investigate, the Reading Eagle reports, they found those 10 marijuana plants. They also found two men: David B. Light, 54, and Gregory Longenecker, 51. Light surrendered to police immediately. Longenecker ran. The police called in a helicopter to follow Longenecker, but they lost him in the dense brush of the state lands. A trooper jumped onto the bulldozer and used it with the state worker to try to chase the grower. What happened next is a little vague, thanks to police spokespeople’s propensity to describe events in ways that leave out any sort of clear cause-effect relationship. But according to State Police spokesman David Boehm, the bulldozer was clearing a path through the underbrush when the state trooper on the bulldozer told the worker to stop. Then they looked behind the bulldozer and saw Longenecker’s body.” https://reason.com/2018/07/16/police-run-over-kill-man-with-bulldozer/
54) The family of a Reading man crushed by a bulldozer in a police search for pot gets a $475,000 settlement – Gregory Longenecker was killed in July 2018 after a Pennsylvania Game Commission employee caught him growing 10 small marijuana plants. https://www.inquirer.com/news/gregory-longenecker-lawsuit-bulldozer-reading-marijuana-settlement-20210311.html
55) A police affidavit shows that officers seized, among other items, 10.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana grinder from Jean’s apartment. Merritt said the search warrant showed investigators were immediately looking for drug paraphernalia, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth reports. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/botham-jean-shooting-amber-guyger-search-warrant-drug-paraphernalia-marijuana-today-2018-09-13/
Amber Guyger sentenced to 10 years for murdering neighbor Botham Jean https://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/amber-guyger-sentencing-resumes-after-murder-conviction-death-botham-jean-n1061146
Police Search Dallas Shooting Victim’s Apartment for Drugs, Angering Critics By MOLLY OLMSTEAD SEPT 14, 2018 https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/09/dallas-shooting-botham-jean-marijuana-racism.html
56) Eighteen-year-old Paul Rea was killed on the evening of 27 June 2019 when two deputies pulled over a car that allegedly ran a stop sign in East LA. Rea, who grew up nearby, was a passenger. The officers accused the driver of being high on marijuana and demanded he exit. The officers threatened to kill him if he didn’t comply, the driver told prosecutors. Rea broke free and ran, and deputy Hector Saavedra fired a round of shots, fatally hitting him in the neck, authorities said. Prosecutors concluded the shooting was justified “self-defense”, citing Saavedra’s claims that Rea “punched” him and was armed with a handgun. But in its report approving the killing, the district attorney’s office also noted that surveillance video did “not depict a struggle” and did not show Rea punching the officer. Rea also never pulled out a firearm, and the deputy was “unable to describe what the gun looked like”, prosecutors said. Rea was 5ft 2in and grew up terrified of police, said Leah Garcia, his mother. “They run from you not because they are guilty, but because they are afraid,” said Garcia, 39, about the young men in the neighborhood . Garcia said the father of her youngest son was also killed by LASD. She has one memory of getting stopped by deputies with Paul when he was around seven years old: “He screamed, ‘Please don’t take my mom.’” Los Angeles sheriff’s department faces a reckoning after another police shooting, Sam Levin, 1 Jul 2020 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/01/los-angeles-sheriffs-department-reckoning-police-shootings
57) ST. LOUIS — Police tried to arrest a man for marijuana possession early Thursday, but when the man reached for his gun, police said, an officer fatally shot him. Police identified the man Thursday afternoon as Cortez Shepherd, 28, of the 1900 block of 13th Street in St. Louis. https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/st-louis-police-officer-kills-man-in-struggle-over-gun-police-say/article_c305394d-d29f-5499-a2e5-e58c248ae970.html
“Police have not said how much marijuana Shepherd had. Last year, St. Louis aldermen reduced the fine for getting caught with less than 35 grams of marijuana to a maximum of $25. It used to be as high as $500. In addition, Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner declared that she would not prosecute possession of marijuana cases of less than 100 grams.” Man killed by St. Louis police did nothing wrong, sisters say Nassim Benchaabane Sep 6, 2019 https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/man-killed-by-st-louis-police-did-nothing-wrong-sisters-say/article_18dca3cd-e306-54bb-b0b4-a9a099f153bd.html
“The officers also pointed out marijuana could be seen in the vehicle, but add that they didn’t care about it. Things take a turn when the officers ask Moses to step out of the vehicle and he drives away.” https://6abc.com/lymond-moses-officer-involved-shooting-new-castle-county-police-delaware/10557197/
Widow speaks out after police body camera video shows deadly Delaware shooting Amanda Spence and the family’s attorney Emeka Igwe spoke to ABC News. ByHaley Yamada 16 March 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/US/widow-speaks-police-body-camera-video-shows-deadly/story?id=76499809
Family files lawsuit over police killing of Lymond Moses Moses was shot and killed in his car in January. ByKiara Alfonseca 28 April 2021, https://abcnews.go.com/US/family-files-lawsuit-police-killing-lymond-moses/story?id=77364847
US: Sister of dead black man Lymond Moses killed by Delaware police sues cops | World English News, Apr 28, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90BvYx7c_20
7 Cops Fired After Marvin Scott, Black Man Arrested For Petty Marijuana Charge, Dies In Custody Marvin D. Scott III died after being pepper sprayed and restrained with a spit hood. Jon Greig by Jon Greig April 02, 2021 https://blavity.com/7-cops-fired-after-marvin-scott-black-man-arrested-for-petty-marijuana-charge-dies-in-custody?category1=news
61) Drug War Chronicle
62) 2016: People Still Killed in US Drug War at the Rate of One a Week [FEATURE] by psmith, January 02, 2017 https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2017/jan/02/2016_people_still_killed_us_drug
63) Donald Trump, “Duterte Harry” and the Drug War Death Squads By David Malmo-Levine on January 17, 2017 https://www.cannabisculture.com/content/2017/01/17/donald-trump-duerte-harry-drug-war-death-squads/
65) Rodrigo Duterte, September 2016 (source: Reuters) SEPTEMBER 29, 2016, Philippines’ Duterte likens himself to Hitler, wants to kill millions of drug users By Karen Lema, Manuel Mogato https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-duterte-hitler-idUSKCN1200B9
67) Since taking office, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has orchestrated a brutal campaign of extrajudicial killings, mainly as part of his “drug war.” Credible estimates for the number of dead range from at least 12,000 to a likely 30,000 or more since mid-2016.
68) Duterte Using Marijuana Is No Joke Philippines Should Decriminalize Medical Use of Cannabis, Brad Adams December 4, 2018 https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/12/04/duterte-using-marijuana-no-joke
69) March 2, 2017 “License to Kill” Philippine Police Killings in Duterte’s “War on Drugs” https://www.hrw.org/report/2017/03/02/license-kill/philippine-police-killings-dutertes-war-drugs
70) MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte gave a resounding no to any moves to legalize medical marijuana, a position different from the one he took in his first year as Chief Executive. “I do not intend to legalize it. Ayaw ko. Gawin mo lang excuse ‘yan eh, tatanim ka ng iyo. Sasabihin mo medicinal man kaya ito,” said Duterte on Friday, March 8. (I don’t want to. You will just use that as an excuse to plant your own. You will just say, this is just for medicinal purposes.) … In December 2018, Malacañang reiterated the President’s 2016 position, saying, “He is in favor of limited use of marijuana…. Logically, then, he will support and sign any bill that would be consistent with his stand.” It was that month as well when Duterte said he uses marijuana to stay awake during strenuous activities – a remark which the President eventually insisted was just a joke.
Duterte says he’ll never legalize medical marijuana MAR 8, 2019 https://www.rappler.com/nation/duterte-says-he-will-never-legalize-medical-marijuana
71) DDB insists marijuana still ‘dangerous drug’ Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star ) – December 13, 2020 https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2020/12/13/2063399/ddb-insists-marijuana-still-dangerous-drug
72) PDEA chief to Shanti Dope: Make music ‘aligned with war on drugs’ MAY 27, 2019 https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/pdea-chief-tells-shanti-dope-make-music-aligned-war-on-drugs
73) Cannabis Act: Division 2: Subdivision A: Paragraph 17-1 https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-24.5/page-4.html#h-77141
77) On December 19th, 2013, Sergeant Investigator Fredrich Adam Sowders was shot and killed as he served a no-knock warrant at 5:30 am, looking for marijuana plants and guns.
Texas Man Not Indicted For Killing Cop in No-Knock Drug Raid by psmith, February 09, 2014, https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2014/feb/09/texas_man_not_indicted
Many of the largest Texas law enforcement agencies do not have written policies for executing “no-knock” search warrants, according to a new study by the Texas Civil Rights Project. Released two months after Burleson County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Sowders was killed while executing a “no-knock” warrant, the report showed that only 53 of the 161 agencies surveyed had written policies on the matter. … Investigators had requested the warrant for Magee’s home near Snook based on a tip from a jailed informant who said deputies would find multiple 6-foot-tall marijuana plants, a stolen gun and an aggressive dog, according to the affidavit for the warrant. Magee’s lawyer Dick DeGuerin said his client was defending himself, his home and his pregnant girlfriend from people he believed to be intruders. Study: ‘No-knock’ policies seldom written down by Texas law enforcement agencies By Andrea Salazar Feb 19, 2014https://theeagle.com/news/local/study-no-knock-policies-seldom-written-down-by-texas-law-enforcement-agencies/article_76d4b334-5c35-5706-b07d-542c77c3e741.html#tracking-source=article-related-bottom
Renken will, however, “fully prosecute” the drug charge against Magee, noting that the deputies “would not have been there that day if Mr. Magee had not decided to live a lifestyle of doing and producing illegal drugs in his home.” Accused shooter in death of Burleson County Sheriff’s Deputy Adam Sowders will not face murder charge By ANDREA SALAZAR Feb 7, 2014 https://theeagle.com/news/local/accused-shooter-in-death-of-burleson-county-sheriffs-deputy-adam-sowders-will-not-face-murder/article_bad8779e-2f99-5ecf-bcb9-9f337c936b28.html