Monday, August 4, 2008

Two Dead Dogs and a 32-Pound Package of Marijuana

Radley Balko at Reason magazine points the world to so much great stuff, I'm thinking of doing something called "The Weekly Radley".

Anyway, since dogs in jeopardy seem to be a popular topic around here, Mr. Balko says that two dogs belonging to the mayor of Berwyn Heights were shot during a SWAT team drug raid.

Here's The Washington Post, with just the facts:

A police SWAT team raided the home of the mayor in the Prince George's County town of Berwyn Heights on Tuesday, shooting and killing his two dogs, after he brought in a 32-pound package of marijuana that had been delivered to his doorstep, police said.....

The package was addressed to Calvo's wife, Trinity Tomsic, said law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.
Tippett said police are working to determine for whom the drugs were meant....

"My government blew through my doors and killed my dogs," Calvo said. "They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don't think they really ever considered that we weren't."
Calvo described a chaotic scene, in which he -- wearing only underwear and socks -- and his mother-in-law were handcuffed and interrogated for hours. They were surrounded by the dogs' carcasses and pools of the dogs' blood, Calvo said.

And here's Mr. Radley Balko again:
So far there have been no arrests, and the police seem to be backing down from the idea that the mayor and his wife are drug dealers. If it’s true that they aren’t, I’m sure we’ll soon hear lots of apologies to the mayor for not being more careful and thorough, given his esteemed position.

The real question is whether there will be any discussion over the appropriateness of sending a SWAT team into any private home, handcuffing the occupants at gunpoint, and slaughtering the family pets—all over the mere receipt of a mailed package of weed. I doubt it.

Even if hizzoner turns out to be guilty, it’s always worth contextualizing these cases: We’ve reached the point where it’s commonplace for the government to wage violent, confrontational invasions of private homes over the suspicion of possession of the dried leaves of a plant.
And here's Mr. Whited Sepulchre:

I haven't posted much about the need to reform drug laws, other than a couple of posts about the near impossibility of completing a long parole or probation sentence. But jails are becoming a growth industry. We've passed China and Russia in the number of inmates and per capita percentage of inmates. Our drug prohibitions are the biggest problem in Bolivia and Colombia, and the situation along the Texas/Mexico border makes the Prohibition era 1920's look like a Sunday School class.
My friend Dr. Liz once told me that she sees marijuana laws as the Police Department's buffalo. (i.e. - Native Americans couldn't prosper and grow without a healthy supply of buffalo. That's a great line, when you think about it.)

Mrs. Whited Sepulchre works as a Youth Minister, so lobbying for relaxed marijuana possession laws gets awkward. Still, we're using the lives of a lot of casual marijuana users as fodder for a government growth industry. The number of social workers, lawyers, job counselors, parole officers, drug testers, police officers, and prison employees who rely on this particular "buffalo" is astounding.

Couldn't their time be better spent doing something else?

One other thing.....I was googling about for pictures of Cheye Calvo, or even better, his dogs. Instead, I came up with this site, where he was a speaker at "National ID at the Crossroads: The Future of Privacy in America".
National ID cards and privacy issues are a big time libertarian issue.
Libertarians generally speak out in favor of relaxed marijuana laws.
The libertarians who speak out loudest in favor of relaxed marijuana laws are generally those who occasionally ....
Aw, never mind.
They still didn't need to shoot his dogs.


Suzette said...

In all honesty, how has a little marijuana, smoked responsibly, hurt anyone? Sure, it's not as healthy as eating pineapples, but really, who cares if you are in your own house/apt. and you smoke a little pot? I don't think it's prudent or wise to send an 18 year old person to prison for having a few joints in her house and lose the ability to find a good paying job for the rest of her life. Has Mrs. Whited ever smoked a joint, drank one too many alcoholic beverages, etc.? It's the mental state and/or mindset of individuals, not whether they take a couple hits off of a joint or have a few beers. Right? Wrong?

Dr Ralph said...

An interesting recounting of the history of drug laws in the US (including marijuana) can be found here, from Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do, by Peter McWilliams.

The point is made that prior to the government's campaign to criminalize the use of marijuana, it was known simply as "hemp," and that calling hemp by its Mexican name was a way of generating anti-foreigner sentiment against a familiar substance.

WS -- this sounds like something you may already have in your library.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

The answer to your question about Mrs. WS and any substance excess, experimentation, or even mild curiosity is "No". It's not her kind of thing.
I haven't been around her 24/7 her entire life, but the answer is still "No".
My point was about me. It's not easy for me to advocate liberalising weed laws without getting her into some kind of professional difficulty.

I have employees who probably smoke a joint every night. I have employees who drink a 12-pack every night. Guess which group i trust the most on a forklift the next morning?

Dr. Ralph,
I don't own the book, but I've probably browsed it during my Literary Retail career, or sometime afterward.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Once someone goaded SWAT into doing something they just had to kill someone. Best that could have happened, if you ask me. Otherwise it could have been the dogs' owners.

Suzette said...

Yhea...I figured as much with Mrs. Whited. It's much harder (IMO) for someone who has not smoked pot to understand what it does or doesn't do -- they just know it's listed as a "drug" and run the other direction. They don't know or maybe believe that there is responsible smoking just like there is responsible drinking, eating, exercising, etc.

sandersonmom said...

A little pot smoking probably would be beneficial to everyone who has to work in the real world. I agree that I would total pick someone who smokes pot every night rather than someone who downs a six pack. Why is it that a 'drug' can be illegal and all it does is just makes you not want to go anywhere and stay at home watching old Saturday Night Live reruns laughing your butt off. But alcohol is on every corner, you drink, you get drunk, you want to drive to show off, BAM! you can end up hurting yourself or someone else.
I'd rather legalize the previous and see profits in snacks go up!

fembuttx said...

Wow!! 32 pounds of weed on your doorstep...That is like a lifetime supply...Drugs should be legal. Period. But then we would have a lot of unemployed judges, lawyers, police, prison guards and prison cafeteria workers...And bologna manufacturing, from what I hear a lot of bologna in the prison system...Oh and bakeries, white bread bakeries...

If I could, I would smoke weed from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed.....I would laugh my ass off every time someone said VEG-210 or Cape Geraurdo...But, it is illegal, and I have to keep my job....But I can still laugh my ass without weed!!

fembuttx said...

Oh by the way if the Feds came and raided my place, there would be one dead pussy.

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Well, it's sad that there are two more victims in this war on drugs - "just dogs" this time... very sad, but beats the alternative.

To Fembuttx, I believe that the bolonga industry would maintain as prison demand would go down, but general bologna consumption due to munchies would offset. If not, Oscar Mayer may purchase a controlling interest in Jack in the Box just to make sure (late night drive thru, ya know).

sandersonmom said...

TarrantLibertyGuy...not only the late drive thru, but have you heard of the Nacho Cheese Cheeseburger that they have a coupon on that you can only use after 9:00 p.m. and before 4:00 a.m.????

Dr Ralph said...

Does Jack in the Box have the nerve to call this the "Stoner Special?" Since that's clearly who the target audience is.