Drug War, Part 2: Drugs In Cars

I was reading an article about Dianne Feinstein being a bad person and this stood out to me:

As a possible example, the California Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal weekend collision in Santa Rosa as being related to marijuana use. A woman and her daughter-in-law were killed when a Toyota Camry in which they were riding was rear-ended by a pickup truck. A preliminary CHP investigation determined that the 30-year-old man driving the pickup was impaired by marijuana and reading a text message on his cellphone at the time of the collision.

With marijuana legalization in US states such as Colorado, police departments are moving away from enforcing possession of marijuana and towards enforcing driving while high. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) have always been applicable laws to any type of intoxication, but have largely been applied only to alcohol. An officer who smelled marijuana would work toward the goal of finding the individual in possession of marijuana. The officer who smelled alcohol, on the other hand, would work toward showing the individual to be intoxicated.

The drug war is a career for many individuals in law enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Agency, for example, would have no reason to exist if it were not for the drug war. Yet, it would be wrong to think that legalization will make them go away. They will simply find a new niche.

A million dollar “Drive High, Get A DUI” campaign has been put in place in Colorado. These media blitzes serve the same purpose for police departments as they do for corporations. It is marketing. They are attempting to imprint the idea or concept of a brand upon the public so that the public will accept it. In this case the brand is marijuana DUI/DWIs.

The state of Colorado will also receive federal funds to train officers for the shift in enforcement:

According to C-DOT’s website, a Colorado Drug Recognition Expert is a law enforcement officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. There are currently 185 active DREs around the state. New federal money will cover training for 35 more officers.

This is done in the name of safety, but it is a money grab. The fines associated with simple possession of marijuana resided in the hundreds, while the fines associated with a DWI/DUI in the United States average approximately $10,000. A large part of this involves mandatory payments to different state agencies, including law enforcement agencies, as well for-profit corporations in a few cases. Thus, a DWI/DUI arrest is far more lucrative than the average marijuana arrest.

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