One thing local law enforcement is really good about is scaring people. (Arguably, it’s what they’re best at.) Usually, this is justified on the basis of the department’s need for money. It’s even possible sometimes that law enforcement believes the bullshit they feed the public.
For example, recently Fresno passed a set of local ordinances intended to override the state laws concerning the possession, growing, and use of medical marijuana. Ostensibly, the target is dispensaries, but the ordinance — about which I shall write more in another post — is fairly broad in its application. The end result is that marijuana — medical or otherwise — is essentially illegal to grow, or use, anywhere in Fresno County. Whether or not you will be arrested for using it in accordance with California state law is unknown at this time, but the ordinance itself makes it illegal.
And why? Because medical marijuana is associated with an increase in the commission of crimes in Fresno.
Or so law enforcement tells people.
The truth, of course, while not really known for Fresno, is very likely something different.
This reminds me what happens when police officers testify about gangs. In just about every trial of a gang member, a so-called “expert” on gangs — always a police officer who obtained his “expertise” through arresting gang members; the same thing that makes him an expert on counseling rape victims, because he talks to so many of them — tells the jury that the gang to which the defendant belongs is a criminal street gang and that it is such because, among other things, the “primary activity” of the so-called CSG is certain enumerated crimes. Pressed on the issue on cross-examination, though, the officer never has raw data that can back up the claim that committing those crimes is the “primary” activity of the CSG.
More likely, the “primary” activity of the group is partying and drinking. This is readily highlighted when you look at the fact that Fresno allegedly has — or at least a couple years ago was alleged by law enforcement (via the Fresno Bee) to have — 8000 Bulldog CSG members. That doesn’t count any other gangs. With “primary activities” of “drive-by shootings, assaults with deadly weapons, robberies” and so on, which is typically the testimony, Fresno should be a virtual hell-hole into which no sane person should ever venture.
But, it turns out, this isn’t the case.
Because the claim is not backed by any data. It’s just a cop saying so, because otherwise, well, he doesn’t really have anything to say on the subject.
So it appears to be with medical marijuana cultivation and dispensing. A study in Los Angeles has actually shown that crime rates have gone up when medical marijuana dispensaries are closed.
It wouldn’t surprise me if this is true, also, in Fresno County. I doubt we’ll ever be allowed to know, even if law enforcement actually collects data that could show us.
The fact is, most medical marijuana dispensaries in Fresno County are run by people trying to follow the laws of the State of California. They usually employ some form of security for their operations, which is much more than you can say about liquor stores.
Sure, there have been one or two highly-publicized deaths when people were shot trying to steal marijuana from growers. But — going back to the liquor stores — Google “Fresno liquor store shooting” and watch how many of those come up.
Where’s our county-wide moratorium on liquor stores? Or how about banks?
Ain’t gonna happen. And why not? Because the problem isn’t medical marijuana dispensaries. The problem is politics, money, and control. Fresno doesn’t like marijuana. Period. “We have our fear,” one woman said at a working committee to revise the medical marijuana ordinances to make them align to State law.
Yes, unfounded fear, combined the occasional anecdote about something someone didn’t like — sometimes even a crime — occurring near a dispensary, combined with law enforcement’s scaretistics in place of any actual statistics. The difference? Scaretistics don’t come with numbers, because if they did, the numbers would be “one” or “two” and possibly even “three.” Instead you get “more” or “increased” or “numerous.” That’s how you spot scaretistics.
But we have our fear.
And what more excuse do we really need to ignore California State law? It’s not like it’s the Sheriff’s duty to uphold th…oh, wait.