According to the Wall Street Journal, local police departments in Colorado and Washington expect to lose millions in drug revenue that would have been seized from the assets of black market marijuana growers and dealers. The author notes a drug task force in Washington’s Snohomish County previously seized more than $1 million annually in forfeiture money seized from the property, vehicles and even a lawn mower off illegal growers.
Across the nation, forfeiture assets from marijuana cases from 2002 to 2012 raked in $1 billion, compared to $6.5 billion from all other drug busts, according to Justice Department data.
The state of Washington cashed in $18.6 million in pot forfeiture cases from 2002 to 2012.
Though forfeiture specifics vary from state to state, property, vehicles, large amounts of cash (generally over $10,000) may be seized merely on the suspicion of being used in a drug crime, according to Vice.com. As long as the feds have some hand in it, they take 20 percent, leaving the rest to fund local police departments. That’s lucrative incentive for keeping natural flower farming a more serious felony than rape or murder in the rest of the country.
It’s reminiscent of the profit incentive of the Catholic Church during the witch hunts and Inquisitions in the early part of the last millennium. All property of the accused was confiscated, with one-third to the Vatican, one-third to the local Inquisitor, and one-third to local lay authorities, according to H.C. Lea in The History of the Inquisition through the Middle Ages.
Rivaling the sale of indulgences, profit from the persecuted was reminiscent of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s air-conditioned dog house. In fact, when the Holy Roman emperor outlawed the confiscation of property in 1630, prosecutions of witchcraft in the city of Bamberg plummeted from 100 annually in the 1620s to 24 in 1630 and zero in 1631, according to An Underground Education by Richard Zacks.
The Drug War requires serious capital to function, more than $1 trillion from US tax payers since the start of the drug war, or $169 for every man, woman and child in America on an annual basis.
Colorado, on the other hand, takes a 25 percent cut off a legal business, including 15 percent to fund school construction. What do we want, prisons or schools? As prison budgets are protected from state cuts, fewer state funds go to schools, escalating the cost of education which means less education and more jails in an age where the job market requires more skills, argues David Brodwin in a US News and World Report editorial.
The United States has the highest civilian incarceration rate in the world, half of which is for nonviolent cannabis. In the spirit of Nancy Reagan, when are we finally going to “just say no?” No to profit fueled police brutality. No to broken families. No to the weed witch hunt.