With the recent announcement of the particulars of the New York City Police Department policy change intended to reduce marijuana arrests, Sergeants Benevolent Association police union leader Ed Mullins, who previously lamented that reducing marijuana arrests in the city would be “clearly the beginning of the breakdown of a civilized society,” is back with more nonsense talk about marijuana.
Under the new NYPD operations order effective November 19, marijuana arrests are expected to drop dramatically. The new policy directs that police generally should not arrest a person who has 25 grams (about 9/10 of an ounce) or less of marijuana “consistent with personal use” in public view in a public place. Instead, the marijuana may be confiscated and the individual fined up to $100 for a first offense and up to $250 for a later offense. Police are instructed, though, to continue to arrest individuals who are in public with lit marijuana.
Mullins first attempts to disparage the police policy change by labeling it as part of a “far-left agenda.” Mullins is quoted in the New York Daily News:
'Some guys are really blaming de Blasio,' Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said. 'The guy just doesn’t get it with this whole far-left agenda, and he’s putting (cops) in a bad spot.'That is not much of an argument. Favoring free speech and peace is often labeled as “left wing” as well; that does not make those views wrong. Mullins’ comment does nothing more than reinforce the false left-right dichotomy that diverts people from considering the real battle between freedom and oppression.
We must grant, though, that there is evidence supporting the proposition that nationwide a greater portion of people “on the left” than “on the right” support increasing leniency in marijuana laws. Consider, for example, the United Sates House of Representatives consideration in May of two amendments to tell the US government to respect states’ legalization of medical marijuana and hemp. Each of the amendments passed with the support of over 90% of voting Democrat members, while only 22% and 30% of voting Republican members voted “yes” in the respective medical marijuana and hemp votes. This partisan divide is also visible in Americans’ views on marijuana legalization as reflected in a Pew Research Center poll in October. The poll results indicate marijuana legalization is about twice as popular among Democrats as among Republicans, with 64% of Democrats favoring legalization, compared to only 31% support among Republicans. Overall, 52% of people polled supported legalization, compared to 45% favoring illegality.
Over at CBS News, Mullins is quoted further regarding the police policy change. He offers two additional arguments for his opposition, both nonsensical:
'I see this as a very, very lax police atmosphere to which we're sending a message to the public that it's OK to do what you want to do on the street regardless of what the law says,' Mullins said.Contrary to Mullins’ suggestion, the NYPD’s marijuana arrests binge, including nearly 440,000 marijuana possession arrests from 2002 through 2012, was largely composed of arrests in violation of the law or thinly justified through use of the city’s corrupt and rights abusing “stop and frisk” policy. As explained in the CBS News article:
Mullins said the move is purely de Blasio backing off.
'I know what his argument is: It targets blacks and Hispanics disproportionately," Mullins said. "But what he's not addressing -- and what no one is addressing -- is that if this is an issue in a black and Hispanic community, ignoring it by not making arrests isn't helpful to the community.'
Under a 1977 New York State law, low-level marijuana possession is a non-arrestable offense unless it's in public view or burning. But critics say many of the arrests are the result of New York's "stop and frisk" policy, during which police will make people empty their pockets and then arrest them for having the drug out in public.Regarding Mullins’ bizarre claim that the police are helping communities by arresting people and throwing them in jail for marijuana possession, it would be interesting to see him explain that to the individuals handcuffed in the back of police cars or confined in cells deprived of their ability to direct their own lives. Or he could explain to family members why they should be thankful that their parent, child, spouse, or sibling is manhandled and incarcerated for having some marijuana.
Mullins’ worries about protecting civilization, the rule of law, and communities may be about to grow even larger. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito stated on Thursday that she believes marijuana should be legalized.