U.S.: Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Claims Legalization To Blame For Violent Crime Spike

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

You might think that the uptick in violent crimes in major cities in the U.S. is related to the "Ferguson Effect," as asserted by FBI Director James Comey. But a former White House national drug policy spokesman is now claiming that the violent crime spike is due to marijuana legalization, of all things.

Robert Weiner, who used to be a national drug policy spokesman for the White House, and senior policy analyst Ben Lasky claim the "Fergson Effect" argument consists of "convenient rationalizations by law enforcement,' in a new op-ed for The Washington Times.

"Violent crime has spiked in many U.S. cities over the last year, including a 54 percent increase in homicides in Washington, D.C., in 2015 -- as well as 63 percent in Baltimore and 13 percent in Chicago," Weiner and Lasky write. "It is no coincidence that this uptick comes at a time when drug laws are being loosened throughout the country. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized or decriminalized marijuana, either for medical purposes or overall."

"Last year, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier told NewsChannel 8 that decriminalizing marijuana 'saves us from having to charge someone for small amounts of marijuana now, because it really never was productive to begin with,'" the duo claim. "As someone who wants to reduce crime, she may not be aware that marijuana legalization does not necessarily decrease crime, and possibly increases it. In Seattle, one of the four states along with the District that has legalized recreational use of marijuana, violent crime has increased by 6 percent since the marijuana law was passed."

"Granted, many believe marijuana makes people docile," Weiner and Lasky write. "However, according to a study called 'Is Marijuana a Gateway Drug?' from the Eastern Economic Journal, 'Marijuana intoxication may spawn curiosity or diminish apprehension about trying more dangerous drugs.'" That's interesting, particularly in view of the fact that any so-called "Gateway Effect" was soundly disproven by science years ago.

The duo points to another article titled "Youth Violence, Guns, and the Illicit-Drug Industry" from The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, which says, "Because those [drug] markets are illegal, the participants must arm themselves for self-protection, and the resulting arms race among young people results in more frequent resorting to guns." Um, well, yeah. That's why legalization is better than criminalization, a fine point which apparently was too much for these two gentlemen to grasp.

"Law enforcement officers, health officials and elected officials know the damage and costs that are done by marijuana in car crashes, driving under the influence arrests and date rape," Weiner and Lasky lied. "Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs used in combination with them are causing a flood of cases in already-overcrowded emergency rooms.

"Most 'legalizers' claim they want to separate marijuana from 'harder' drugs, but it cannot be done," the men lied.

The two continued, "FBI director James Comey blames the increase in violent crimes on the 'Ferguson Effect.' Mr. Comey said officers feel 'under siege' by cellphone cameras and are reluctant to do their jobs. He said his officers tell him, 'We don't feel like being that guy in the video.'"

"This contention neglects the reason why black youth take those cell phones out in the first place," the men wrote. "It's based on events in Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland, New York, Charleston and other cities in which police shot an unarmed black 'suspect.'"

"Drugs and people using firearms, not cellphone cameras, have caused the spike in violent crime," Weiner and Lasky wrote. "It's time for expanded drug treatment, and expanded background checks for gun purchases, not convenient rationalizations by law enforcement. And certainly not expanded drug legalization."

Photo of Robert Weiner: Weiner Republic