“I suppose all that’s accurate to the society around here. For me, living life the way I wanted to on my terms was far simpler by myself.”
After 60 years of a non-existent criminal record, Sam was raided and arrested in Florida for growing marijuana in 2008.
“I disliked every aspect of that journey, Sam said, however, it provided a glimpse behind the scenes of Florida law enforcement and the legal system pertaining to cannabis.”
After two years tangled in the Florida legal system, his perspective changed.
Sam shook his head with a small grin. “I have stories that will travel silently with me through life. I will protect my freedom to pursue passions in my own way. I used to take it for granted. I was naïve. That has changed in my lifetime. Now, I appreciate more. I am more cautious. More protective.
“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it”….John Stuart Mill-1859
This quote is taken from the philosophical book On Liberty, which John Stuart Mill published in 1859.
The author suggests relaxing and let people do their thing. If you’re not hurting anyone, then you should be able to do whatever you want, whether the rest of society approves of it or not.
The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency doesn’t share this philosophy. The more marijuana raids they conduct, the more funding becomes available.
In 2016, the DEA was funded at $2.4 billion in the legislation, an increase of $45 million above the fiscal year 2015. This includes $372 million for regulatory and enforcement efforts. The $14 million marijuana eradication program has been the subject of a fair amount of criticism in recent years. Its purpose is to halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States.
The Domestic Marijuana Eradication (DME) Program is a federally funded system that directly supports local, state and county law enforcement agencies in the detection, dismantling and eradication of domestically grown marijuana. The DME Program is jointly administered by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s Domestic Marijuana Eradication/Suppression Program and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement. This program is embedded in sheriff’s offices and police departments throughout 45 counties in the state of Florida.
It has been in place for over 20 years and has resulted in the estimated detection of over 34,000 illegal grow sites, eradication of more than 2.7 million marijuana plants valued at $3.2 billion, and the arrest of over 17,000 cultivators in Florida.
Since 2008, the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement has administered disbursements of federal funds originating from the United States Department of Justice to support local, state and county agencies in their efforts to eradicate domestically grown marijuana.
The DME program touts successes to justify funding thru annual reports which showcase their activity, much like what a C.E.O. would present to the board to explain and justify. Florida’s war on marijuana cultivation has been deemed an unqualified success. That means pure success with no faults or problems. And it gets better every year.
That would suggest the program is not working but the position of the players paid to seek out illegal growing operations say they require additional funding to stay on top of the increasing numbers of marijuana growers throughout the state. Isn’t it amazing. All these hundreds of busts and eradication over the years and all the powers that be just can’t get ahead of the growers.
Adam Putnam is the current Agriculture Commissioner. His second and final term ends in 2018. Mr. Putnam oversees the DME program.
Officials say The Domestic Marijuana Eradication program is a cost effective and measurable effort to prevent marijuana from reaching our streets. “Our partnership with local law enforcement helps keep marijuana out of our communities, making them safer for the 20 million residents who call Florida home,” said Adam Putnam, Florida Agriculture Commissioner. http://floridapolitics.com/archives/tag/domestic-marijuana-eradication
Let’s follow the money: Tremendous incentive is offered for marijuana raids and arrests. When a cop making $30,000. a year has an opportunity to put $5k in his pocket from a single marijuana raid with no questions asked, it adds to the corrupt environment of the drug enforcement system in America.
- Funding originates from the United States Department of Justice
- Disbursements administered by the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement
- Administered & executed by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency
- In conjunction with the Domestic Marijuana Eradication program
- And the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office
This is what a controversial legal process is all about — property confiscation on the spot.
Civil asset forfeiture is the practice of taking someone’s property based solely on the suspicion of a crime. The property is seized by the police on the spot and will then go directly into the pockets of the agency who made the confiscation. Agencies are not required to report the actual value of assets seized. The full amount is unclear.
Corrupt activities are woven throughout the entire War on Drugs structure. When we delve deeper into the culture of deception that has been present since the Nixon years, we get a hint of the huge, out of control War on Drug’s machine. I have only scratched the surface to discover how the declaration of a war on drugs in current times have affected millions perhaps billions of human lives. And it has all been built by establishing false perceptions and conducting deliberate deceptions.
In an age when freedom is becoming the exception rather than the rule, imprisoning Americans in private prisons run by mega-corporations has turned into a revenue generator for big business. At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key to protect society. Today, as states attempt to save money by outsourcing prisons to private corporations, the flawed American “system of justice” is being replaced by an even more flawed form of mass punishment based upon profit and expediency.
The War on Drugs and especially Marijuana prohibition has kept these prisons full for decades. The Obama administration was phasing out private ownership, however, the Trump administration reversed that decision. Shares of the two leading U.S. private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic, doubled since Trump’s election.
Here are the five big lobbies against legalization.
- Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget.
- Private Prison Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.
- Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach.
- Pharmaceutical Corporations: Pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal because marijuana can replace Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.
- Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. https://mic.com/articles/20186/war-on-drugs-how-private-prisons-are-using-the-drug-war-to-generate-more-inmates#.FX63RTE9Q
- The ‘war on drugs’ is insanely expensive
- All that money is in practice a complete and total waste
- That wasted money could be spent on programs that matter
- Mass imprisonment of drug users sacrifices economic productivity
- Tax revenue from regulated drug markets would be a government windfall
For an in-depth article that will provide a better understanding http://www.countthecosts.org/sites/default/files/AWDR.pdf
So where does all this take us? The War on Drugs has been in place most of my adult life. It is so deep rooted in American society, that it is difficult to imagine it any other way. It has a grip on America and beyond.
This War requires constant, never ending investigations, assaults, raids, arrests, property seizures, court trials, convictions and prison population management. Hundreds of thousands local, state and federal employees all tasked with a specific function to keep the wheel turning.
Sam wasn’t a player in this game. He was a hobbyist gardener who discovered a natural herb which could provide healing relief for him and some others. He wasn’t bothering anyone.
But, the police needed him. They needed Sam to provide another legitimate number in their data and hopefully, seize some unexpected property or cash. The funding received from the War on Drug’s budget depend on quotas. More arrests equate to more money for future investigations which will result in future arrests. Small or large bears no significance. The law wants them all.
Privately managed jails and prisons for large corporations require the population be maintained to a capacity number. Jurisdictions are awarded funding based on participation.
The County also needed Sam to contribute toward the cost of operating drug awareness/drug abuse classes. When Sam has completed probation and paid all of his fines, he will be free again. However, because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, Sam will have a felony on his criminal record for life. He will no longer have the privilege to vote. Sorry Sam, but thanks for your number.
At this very interesting time in our history, our elected representatives in office are in the early stages of passing a budget. Two programs offered for complete funding cuts are Planned Parenthood and Meals on Wheels. I found no indication of cuts for the DEA.
Is it possible the roots of the DEA have wrapped around the very fiber of America and made it impossible to stop without severely damaging the economy as we know it? Perhaps a new cannabis based economy will be our future salvation. But first, the dismantling of the long standing War on Drugs is necessary.
“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world”…Carl Sagan