5 Ways Law Enforcement Has Bungled Drug War Raids
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Drugs have always been part of the collective human experience, and they forever will be. But bungled drug raids that terrorize citizens for no good reason should end up in the dustbin of history.
Is there another takeaway from the harrowing story of University of California San Diego student Daniel Chong , who drank his own urine to survive a subhuman five-day abandonment in a holding cell? Chong was awaiting release after a Drug Enforcement Agency raid on his apartment complex -- on 4/20, for that extra kick in the crotch. Notwithstanding the DEA's inevitable apology to Chong, who also had to survive three days in intensive care thanks to his careless jailers, the incident will only fuel the drug war's perennial public-relations nightmare.
But added value will surely arrive in the form of other increasingly high-profile rebukes. Like the statement from House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi -- released after news of Chong's drug-war torture went viral -- that openly criticizes the Obama administration's dangerous federal disregard of state medical marijuana laws. The 200 (and counting) cannabis facility raids launched since Obama took office now exceed those of his predecessor, George W. Bush.
"I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana," Pelosi wrote. Her core query to Washington from the Left Coast seemed clear: Why are you high on drug raids?
Here are five more highly stupid recent raids and surreal dramas demonstrating that the drug war is glory bound for a hall of shame.
1. The Oaksterdam Outrage
The House Minority leader's admonishment of the Obama administration's Bush-like excesses may have had nothing to do with Chong proper, as it was greenlit after San Francisco locals leaned on Pelosi after too many Bay Area dispensary crackdowns messed with their lives and heads. But you can draw a line through those recent San Francisco dispensary shutdowns back across the Bay to Oaksterdam University , the Oakland-based for-profit college created by activist Richard Lee and punitively raided for tax arcana this April. As the force behind California's Proposition 19 and Oaksterdam University's conscientious cannabis curriculum, Lee was the effective leader of the Bay Area's legalization movement. But now he's dethroned, Oaksterdam is displaced, and the tolerant Bay Area has evidently been made an offer it can't refuse. The gangster jargon is on purpose: "Every time you close down someone like Richard Lee, no one is cheering louder than Mexican cartels," cannabis law attorney Lisa Gygax told the San Jose Mercury News after Lee relinquished his cannabis-related business ownership in preparation for possible federal indictment. Speaking of gangsters...
2. D'ope! Mexico's Going to Get High, Dude
Like the lucrative-for-some war on terror, the war on drugs' global bungle stumbles onward. Lately, it's been stomping drug warriors right in the church pews of President Felipe Calderon's native Michoacan, prompting outrage from Mexico City's Catholic bishops caught in the crossfire. The irony that the ongoing Mexico drug war is the logical afterbirth of America and Mexico's joint Operation Michoacan -- whose hypermilitarized response to an increasingly permissive drug culture either has no future or is the future -- is lost on no one. Even the cannabis is laughing: One of Mexico's biggest recent drug busts ever uncovered tons of tightly wrapped packages with noted pothead Homer Simpson woo-hooting, " I'm going to get high, dude! " A deeper irony is even more laughable: Mexico used to smuggle pot from South America, but like the rest of us recessionary strivers has decided to rely less on foreign imports and grow at home when possible in a warming climate. Maybe they'd stop shooting up Tijuana and Rosarito for economic primacy if we stopped sending middle-class partiers there in search of cheap drugs and thrills.