What is the most dangerous thing about cannabis?

One of the reasons cannabis is supposedly still not legal is because of the “potential dangers” of using marijuana. We often hear the revised “Weed makes you an idiot” argument with the much discussed “Teen IQ Studies” frequently quoted by prohibitionists.

We also have the psychosis argument, the addiction argument, and a number of other “reasons” why federal legalization cannot take place in the US. With all of these “potential risks”, the risk of dying from cannabis is practically zero – that is, unless the police intervene.

Today I want to tell you the story of two police deaths in which cannabis was the cause of the victims’ deaths. Rather, the enforcement of draconian laws that led to the death of the individual because he only consumed one plant.

Imagine we talked about tomatoes instead: “Cops kill farmers for a bad tomato business!” We’d be horrified. Now just keep that line of thought as I introduce you to our first victim.

Meet Marvin Scott

Marvin Scott was a 26-year-old black man from Texas who died in police custody after being arrested for “unpredictable behavior” and the presence of a joint. This story isn’t as black and white as just saying Scott died of weeds, but cannabis was certainly one of the reasons the police got involved.

Marvin Scott suffered from a mental illness – but when he was arrested he had been on medication for up to a year and had not experienced an “episode”. The vice article – where I found Scott’s story – didn’t specify what type of mental illness Marvin was suffering from, but from the sound of things he was probably suffering from some kind of psychotic disorder.

And this is where the cops are in big trouble – they now have to deal with a mentally ill person and treat them like a criminal for the presence of cannabis – which is still very illegal in Texas.

They first took him to a mental hospital, but after he was evacuated he was sent back to prison. There he began to behave erratically, and when the cops did not forcibly restrain him, they decided that spraying pepper and putting on a “spit hood” would be the way to go.

Unfortunately, they did not consider him asthmatic and as a result, suffocated in their care. Seven police officers, including one, were taken on administrative leave. The man’s parents were informed of the death of their son by text.

While mental illness definitely played a role, it was cannabis that Scott brought into the custody of the police. It was politics, not substance, that killed Marvin – and when you replace tomatoes with cannabis – you can see how pointless it all was.

Meet George Longenecker

If you thought the first story was sad, it is strange and tragic in itself. George was a 51-year-old short-term cook who, according to the article, “liked the grateful dead.” I think that’s in order to humanize it, but to be honest it doesn’t need to be humanized.

George was growing ten marijuana plants when the cops showed up. Of course, George decided to run. The cops saw a bulldozer they had commanded from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, from which they chased George and bulldozer him to death.

What’s more – the police and gaming commission destroyed evidence according to the lawsuit. Again, this story ends with the idea that cannabis is evil and we need people armed with weapons to hunt people down to make sure it doesn’t get to “the kids.”

However, if the police had never been involved in George or Marvin’s life, they would not have died from it. The similarities in these two stories are that these men weren’t in danger – until the cops showed up.

Cannabis is not a gateway drug – unless you confuse it with other drugs on the black market.

When politics are deadlier than drugs

If you look at all drugs – and I include things like fentanyl and heroin – the policy of keeping society safe makes these drugs more dangerous. What would happen if we turned away from treating drug use as “pathological”?

What if it was your basic human right to change your consciousness regardless of the substance used? What if you owned all the rights to your own body?

When we weigh the risks and benefits of legalization so rigorously, the fact that “death by a cop” is on the side of the ban shows that this policy is long overdue for drastic change.

If we don’t, more people will die at the hands of the untrained.

And to be fair, I’m not blaming the cops in Marvin’s case – they were just badly trained. However, the police officers in George’s case are unable to carry state-approved weapons.

Arrested for weeds, read more …



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