Although the Pentagon has been supplying state and local police departments with military grade weaponry to fight the War on Drugs for more than two decades, a large majority of these law enforcers have maintained that equipment such as big guns, armored assault vehicles and grenades have been used mainly to in the event of terrorist threats or lunatic gunmen.
However, documents obtained by Mother Jones through the Freedom of Information Act indicates that law enforcement agencies all across America are specifically requesting that the Department of Defense’s 1033 program ship them high-power armored tactical vehicles to combat the war against marijuana.
Records show that between 2012 and 2014, hundreds of police agencies filed request forms with the Pentagon looking to get their hands on MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles. When asked to justify the use of this type of equipment, the report found that “very few sheriffs and police chiefs cite active shooters, hostage situations, or terrorism,” as to why their department needs a road-ready tank sitting out in the parking lot.
Instead, a quarter of the 465 requests listed “drugs,” as the main reason this equipment was essential to the successful operations of their force.
On the other hand, 8 percent of the requests mentioned the use of these vehicles to take down a barricaded gunman, while only 7 percent referenced hostage situations. Active shooters, a subject that has become a true scourge on modern society, with these types of situations happening every week – only 6 percent of the requests mentioned this threat as a reason for needing an armored tactical vehicle.
Interestingly, a handful of police departments specify the grips of marijuana on civil society as grounds for their request, some of them offering a number of unrealistic descriptions as to why military vehicles are needed to fight cannabis users. A recent analysis by The Washington Post reveals a number of these ludicrous requests, some of which will someday go down in history as caricatures of prohibitionary times.
In 2012, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office in California asked for a couple of MRAPs to be used “during the apprehension of suspects in both Marijuana eradications and during high-risk search warrant service for drug offenders.”
The Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho, however, which chases down bad guys in a town of only about 10,000 people, filed a request for a single armored truck back in 2013 that was to be used in marijuana eradication efforts. Yet, as the Post pointed out in their analysis, this request was insanely ridiculous, especially since the latest DEA records shows the total number of eradicated grows for Idaho being only 2.
In light of the recent domestic wars that broke out between citizens and police in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland, President Obama assigned an executive order earlier this year that prohibits the federal government form supplying police departments with military grade weapons, including armored vehicles, grenade launchers, and high-caliber firearms. However, the order does not prevent law enforcement from using this type of equipment; it merely forces them to obtain military weapons from other sources. Therefore, police agencies across the nation have been allowed to keep their current arsenal intact, making the president’s attempt at reform more blow hard politics than actual change.
In fact, although this order has begun phasing out some of the weapons local and state police departments are able to secure, the Pentagon is reportedly still issuing armored assault vehicles to any police force with an excuse for needing one (and it doesn’t even have to be a good one).
What do you think? Does the government need armored vehicles to fight marijuana? Let us know.