Sorry to NYPD Boss Bill Bratton, But Weed Doesn't Make You Violent
Here’s a challenge to the stoned masses reading this: raise a feeble handle if marijuana has ever made you so uncontrollably violent that you attacked someone. Chances are high (so high, man) that the only hand you’ve ever lifted was to pass a joint to your friend or reach for the pile of snacks you grabbed on your way to bed. Yet, in the Wonderful World of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, the weed that sent you from zero to comatose in 3.5 is actually the devil’s plant responsible for the “vast majority” of New York City’s violence. Speaking on local radio show AM 970’s “Cat’s Round Table” over the weekend, Buzzkill Bratton said the push to legalize this terror-inducing drug has made him “scratch his head.”
“Interestingly enough here in New York City, most of the violence we see — violence around drug trafficking — is involving marijuana,” Bratton explained to host John Catsimatidis. “Here in New York the violence we see associated with drugs, the vast majority of it, is around marijuana, which is ironic considering the explosion in the use of heroin now in the city.”
This would all be hilarious if we were reading a plotline for a remake of Reefer Madness, but this is real life and the words are coming out of the mouth of the most powerful person in the NYPD. It’s pretty terrifying that someone with so much power can go in public and say these things while ignoring the fact that there are more people attending Iggy Azealia concerts than there are violent marijuana-crazed criminals.
This isn’t Bratton’s first time at the weed-crazed-killer rodeo, either. Last year, he told reporters this line of bullshit: “In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything we had to deal with in the ’80s and ’90s with heroin and cocaine,” before going on to explain that the killings “are not turf battles,” but “rip offs of marijuana dealers, robberies.”
This may seem like a radical idea, but if people are committing violence to rip off marijuana dealers who sell weed illegally, it would probably help to legalize marijuana and end the need for a network of illegal drug dealers. As Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project explained to ThinkProgress, “Prohibition is the root cause of the vast majority of violence associated with marijuana. Most of the time I hear people making that claim as an argument in favor of marijuana policy reform, and making it legal and regulated similarly to alcohol.”
But wait, what about those states where marijuana is legal? Surely Colorado and Washington are lawless hellholes thanks to the legalization of marijuana, right? Not quite. The city of Denver–Colorado’s capital–saw a decrease in violent crime rates in the first 11 months of 2014 following the opening of the first marijuana dispensaries on January 1st, 2014, and this year, the city was at the top of the list of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Places to Live in America. Oh, the humanity! In Washington, violent crime has decreased as well.
There really is no strong backing to suggest that marijuana causes violence. A number of studies have shown that alcohol is more linked to violence than marijuana, which is no shock given what happens when you google drunk fight America, watch an episode of Bad Girls Club, or going to a douchey club and spill a drink on a Wall Streeter’s crisp button-down shirt. Things get messy. Spill a drink on someone while they’re high, and five minute later they’ll feel it and ask if it’s raining.
By having Buzzkill Bratton use violent crime committed because of marijuana prohibition as an excuse to continue prohibiting marijuana, it only results in a violent circle jerk of crime that nobody can enjoy. Legalizing it will reduce crime, bring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax money into the economy, and end a system of policing that disproportionately targets communities of color for possession. Blaze up and chill, Bratton.
Stay tuned to Milk for more marijuana news.
Original imagery via Avinash Hirdaramani. Additional imagery via Tumblr.