Weed Watch

Pot Arrests Reach New High

According to new crime statistics released last week by the FBI, arrests for marijuana possession reached a record high in 2005, which saw nearly 800,000 marijuana-related arrests nationwide. About 88% of those were for simple possession; the remaining people – just over 90,000 – were charged with sale and/or manufacturing, a category that includes people busted for growing pot for medicinal use. Indeed, says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the arrest numbers have increased steadily over the last decade, as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy – home of the nation's drug czar and the brain trust behind the failed anti-drug media – has increasingly focused on maintaining its always-losing pot prohibition. "People are running around with meth mouth and out of their minds, and we're focusing on marijuana," St. Pierre said. "There are [law enforcement agencies] all over the country going bonkers over their meth problems, and yet the ONDCP shoves money at them … to go look for ditchweed." Using the current arrest numbers as a guide, St. Pierre figures that a pot smoker is arrested every 40 seconds – "it's just a totally skewed priority," he said.

Coincidentally, also on Sept. 18, just hours after the FBI released its latest arrest figures, the 40-second spotlight shone on Willie Nelson, who was ticketed for having a pound and a half of pot and several ounces of psychedelic mushrooms on board his tour bus. Reportedly, Nelson's bus was traveling down I-10 outside Lafayette, La., on Monday when he was pulled over for a routine – ahem – commercial vehicle inspection. When the bus door opened, the officer smelled pot and began a search of the bus. While anyone else caught with that amount of pot and 'shrooms would've been carted off to the pokey faster than you can say, "Whiskey River," Nelson and three others, including his sister, slid through with misdemeanor tickets – but not before local officers hightailed it over to the bus, a source tells the Chronicle, to get their pictures taken with the Red Headed Stranger. Perhaps that's punishment enough.

Finally, in an attempt to further its anti-drug message, the ONDCP has taken to cyberspace, posting a number of its ridiculous just-say-no-esque ad spots on YouTube.com. Ironically, the drug czar's office has used the same key words – pot, weed, ganja, etc. – to tag its spots as those used by everyone else loading pot-related videos onto the site, meaning viewers will get to compare the pro-pot videos of, say, NORML to those of the anti-pot ONDCP. Let the duel begin.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

marijuana possession arrests, Weed Watch, ONDCP, NORML, marijuana

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