Jul 262015
 July 26, 2015
sandra bland marijuana

(image via NBC News)

Minorities have been the victim of racial profiling and police brutality for a very long time. But with the rise of social media and the internet, Americans are seeing it in graphic detail more and more. It makes my heart hurt with every story that I read. The most recent story is that of Sandra Bland. Sandra Bland was pulled over for not signaling when making a lane change as she moved over to make room for the officer to pass. After pulling Sandra Bland over, the officer became upset after asking her to put out her cigarette, and after she refused, demanded that she get out of her car.

After a verbal exchange, during which Sandra Bland asked no less than 14 times what she was being arrested for with no response from the officer, Sandra Bland was taken to jail. After three days in jail, she was found dead in her jail cell. Her death is shrouded in shadiness, leading many people to think that there was foul play involved. The discrepancies in the law enforcement side of the story are so numerous that I won’t list them all in this article, but encourage readers to investigate it for themselves. I don’t know exactly what happened to Sandra Bland, but I think it’s fairly easy to reason that what law enforcement has claimed happened did not in fact occur the way they are claiming it did.

As if the death of Sandra Bland wasn’t enough, now there is a marijuana smear campaign being waged against Ms. Bland. This is not the first time that law enforcement has tried to use the victim’s marijuana consumption as a way to distract the public from focusing on the real issues at hand – police brutality and racial profiling. Sharda Sekaran from the Drug Policy Alliance recently wrote about it on DPA’s blog:

Two years ago, when marijuana was brought up to smear the reputation of Trayvon Martin, I wrote “In Order to Address Racism, We Must Confront the Drug War.” I said, “From clothing to intoxicants, what is normal and innocuous in another context becomes sinister when associated with black men and boys.” Sandra Bland’s tragic death in a Texas jail, and subsequent reports of marijuana found in her system, illustrate the same is still true, and moreover equally true for black women and girls.

Sandra Bland’s death is a horrific display of how vulnerable black people in this country are at the hands of law enforcement, and how indelicately black lives are publicly scrutinized for character flaws when that vulnerability results in death.

At a news conference discussing the preliminary findings of an autopsy following Bland’s alleged suicide at the Waller County Jail in Texas last week, officials placedheavy emphasis on marijuana reported to be found in the young woman’s system.

Why this emphasis? What does this have to do with widespread demands for accountability around the circumstances of her death? Are we expected to believe the not so subtle insinuation that marijuana use played a part?

Russ Belville also wrote about this topic recently for Marijuana Politics:

The other pattern I’ve noticed is that when black people die in police custody, marijuana always seems to be involved. Oliver Neal III was arrested when cops “found drugs in his pocket,” but somehow missed the gun he was carrying. Chavis Carter’s urine test “returned a positive result for marijuana.” Jesus Huerta had a juvenile record for “misdemeanor possession of cannabis.” Victor White had “marijuana in his pocket,” but again, cops never found his gun. Michael Brown was so allegedly high on pot he was “a demon.” Eric Garner was out on bail for marijuana possession. Freddie Gray was a seller of marijuana. (Apparently police were unable to find any connection between Walter Scott and marijuana.)

Bringing up the deceased’s positive toxicology test for or previous conviction for marijuana is a classic media move by the police to discredit the victims of their abuse, and it’s happening now with Sandra Bland. “Looking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail,” according to the Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis. Somehow she was booked, frisked, and searched, but cops never found this large quantity of marijuana on her person? Maybe she had formed it in the shape of a gun.

Discovering someone with marijuana on their person or in their system is not a reliable indicator of their criminal nature or suicidal state. According to the latest Gallup poll, 1 in 9 Americans over the age of 18 are current marijuana smokers. In Sandra Bland’s age group, the number is close to 1 in 5.

Some will blame the victim. Why didn’t she just put her cigarette out? Why didn’t she just get out of the car when told? Why wasn’t she just meek and subservient, let the officer violate her rights, and work it out in court later? Sometimes these victim-blamers are the same sort of people who vigorously defend their Second Amendment rights in case they need weapons to fight back against a tyrannical government, but cannot recognize that tyranny when it’s exercised against black citizens.

Maybe Sandra Bland didn’t want to exit her car because she was aware of the two separate incidents in Texas in 2013 where troopers finger-searched the anuses and vaginas of women for marijuana and drugs, finding none, and didn’t change latex gloves between the searches. But Texas made that illegal without a warrant (Fourth Amendment notwithstanding) in 2015 and, of course, no Texas cops would violate the law. (At least she wasn’t in neighboring New Mexico, where you get digital penetration, enemas, x-rays, and colonoscopies if cops suspect you’re hiding drugs in your person.)

As long as Americans are being misled by law enforcement, marijuana opponents, and the mainstream media, this issue will never be fully resolved. This issue needs to be addressed at it’s source. Until police misconduct is directly addressed, there will always be people that are killed and then have their name smeared after the fact because they chose to use a substance that is 114 times safer than alcohol, even though their marijuana consumption had NOTHING to do with their murder at the hands of police.

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  18 Responses to “Marijuana Consumption Is Not The Issue, Police Misconduct Is”

  1.  

    Overzealous cops using and abusing there authority is a severe problem in this country. Instead of that cop telling Sandra to put out a cigarette which is legal to smoke he should of explained the reason for the request. Like the potential for using it as a weapon.

    •  

      They do that in Oregon…explain why..its dumb though. People with brains understand why and don’t need their time wasted with explanations.

      And they are polite using asking phrasing though I don’t see word play as meaningful..cops have the command even if the use the words please. As if you can decline their requests without alternative. Its more dumbness

      •  

        you’re such a bitch…..its not even as if most cops are more than the special ed kids… they are trained in offensive conversation technique, just start asking them the questions first and you control the conversation, put them on the spot….the burden of proof for stopping your freedom of movement across this country should be on them, not having to prove your own innocence when they damn well know you’re right.

      •  

        nobody elected them as our overlords, in fact they are Public Servants …sworn to Protect and Serve…not harass, rule over, intimidate, and ultimately become judge and jury too…they are just another person with a job, or at least they used to be just people

  2.  

    Start by drug testing LEO
    for steroids, legal drugs and alcohol
    either police are scared of everyone or they are a true masochist ,
    #stillbreathing
    #icantbreathe

    •  

      Actually, most of them are just by the books types…that means you do what the law says for right or for wrong. It is like being “traditional” which is also common for people to be

  3.  

    She was taking the anti-epileptic drug Keppra too. Cut cold turkey upon arrest/arrival for 3 days jail to death. The mainstream “news” doesn’t seem to want to report on that fact. Toxicology report not yet released. (but they know, I mean THEY REALLLLLY KNOW she had marijuana in high doses in her system!!!!!!!!!! Look at the side effects for KEPPRA (including suicidal thoughts and tendencies) here>> http://www.drugs.com/keppra.html

    •  

      This is because people incorrectly give the police authority to make health decisions and their facilities usually lack properly educated medical authorities.

      My experience is in Oregon where they ask you about your medical needs and they consult the medical authorities for proper action.

    •  

      i stopped Cymbalta cold turkey and ended up in the ER, almost had a stroke…3 of my medications will make me deathly ill if I stopped taking them…..and the guy threw a woman down on a sidewalk head first then stands on her head and neck and for what? she was a some arch villain or something I guess…too bad it aint like it used to be whena cop was just another person with a job and as soon as they were off the clock they had to face consequences any man would face for treating a woman like that…somebody’s possible Mom, or Sister, or Wife….some pig treated my wife like that, i’d be waiting at his house for him to get off work.

  4.  

    What many people are failing to grasp … maybe people aren’t aware … but Ms Bland had a bad history with marijuana. She had previously been busted and served jail time after pleading guilty to a drug charge. That was her most serious incident involving the drug … among others.

    And don’t think that her very spotty driving history and her previous drug involvement didn’t show up on that Texas officer’s computer screen when he checked her for priors.

    Still, he was in a charitable mood that day (letting the previous driver slide even though he/she lacked proper insurance) but when he asked her – Bland – to please put out her cigarette (smoking a cigarette is often used to mask the smell of pot) and she didn’t comply, he (I’m guessing) felt the possibility of being able to upcharge her existed.

    All due respect to Ms Bland, but given her legal issues in regards to operating a car, her best bet was to quietly comply and hope to get out of Dodge without any more legal woes.

    We all know she chose differently.

    •  

      What a wimp. Should she have offered him a blow job as well? Is that what you would do?

      •  

        I would have done the same thing I always did…throw my hands up and consent to anything they could legally muster. Most of the time, offering full searches will send them along their ways quickly unless you have pot aroma following you around which is common for me.

        One time I got busted, the cops saw my unlit cigar and asked multiple times if the smell was the cigar..this is after having a record and them knowing what I am about…it goes without saying, I couldn’t say it was the cigar because in fact it was not. I don’t think they wanted to bust me that night. It was like 0f outside.

  5.  

    Making this a Cannabis issue or a race issue just muddies the abuse of authority issue. The fearful keep believing the LEOs are all that keep them from harm by whatever boogeymen they fear most. So they give more powers and demand less accountability for the police. I can legally defend myself from a mugger or home invader. Try defending yourself against an egotistical cop or demanding a warrant from a SWAT team. We’ve been asking the legal system to put a rein on the abuses for years. The time is coming to demand instead of asking.
    In the 1950s there were a lot less criminals and there was a general respect for police. Today the approval rate for police is 56% and a surprisingly high 26% for urban blacks, guess where this is trending. The police view the world as ‘us’ versus ‘them’. In case you haven’t figured it out we’re ‘them’.
    Better psychological screening that no longer excludes candidates for having too high an empathy rating and encouraging interaction with mainstream society instead of the squad room culture might help and might even lessen some of their “Reefer Madness”.

    Those who abuse their authority need to be held accountable.

    •  

      I never had warrant-less searches that I didn’t concede to.

      The mantra of rap for decades has been “f–k the police”, what do you expect? Never do I hear them speak of civility.

      Racism was worse in the 50’s

      But yes, the authorities need have their feet held to the fire as does everyone else.

  6.  

    Cops wouldn’t even talk to me without their hands ready to pull their pistols…
    They would flinch when I would pull my stuff out of my pocket to show them what it was. They were always concerned about finding needles and sabotage wares in my pockets on search.

    I am a tall, thin, white guy. I managed to never have problems because I accepted what ever improprieties might happen as a consequence of being caught. It had nothing to do with being a white male.

    Fortunately, the cops in Oregon aren’t that bad and wait till you go to intake for cavity searches.

  7.  

    I was in tx in the mid 70’s, had long hair and an earring. I wasn’t hassled as much as black folks, but it sure was rough. Cops there don’t have any respect for you. Only if you are rich or related. I was beaten, thrown in jail and the cops lied in court even though the prosecutor and judge knew they were lying. The arresting cop and the prosecutor were cousins! This is just a little of bs I went thru and saw down there. But I’ve met a few cops here with the same attitude. Not as many tho.

  8.  

    So…the toxicology report has been released, and there’s kind of a glaring issue….She had 18 micrograms/ml of THC. Not nano, 10^-9. Micro, 10^-6.

    All of the news reports say “18 micrograms, that’s more than 3x the legal driving limit in Coiorado and Washington” when it’s actually 300 times the amount.

    We are to believe one of two scenarios – She consumed that huge amount in jail, or she was such a heavy user that 3 days after her arrest she still tested that ridiculously high.

  9.  

    Biggest question……why was she in jail for 3 days?

    What were the charges? Complaining about a ticket?
    I didn’t think complaining about a ticket was an arrestable, jail-able with no chance for bail, offense.

    All the cops back at the station need to be investigated, there should have been ONE cop that saw this as wrong.

    Why didn’t she come up before a judge for bail within 3 days? It was the next morning for me to see a judge for bail for an actual crime a few years ago.

    The cop came back from his car with the ticket, she complained about it and that’s when he said ‘put out your cigarette’, and the shit started.

    He should have said “that’s your opinion ma’am” and walked back to his car….he was DONE with the traffic stop when he handed her the ticket. period.

    He decided to “show her” for complaining about the ticket and escalated the event. Pure abuse of power.

    What….. didn’t they check stomach contents? If she ate a half pound of pot she was hiding in her woowoo for 3 days there should be a bunch still there. Yea, at least a half pound to reach those levels. Must be a big woowoo.

    BTW, at those levels you would be unconscious and quite unable to hang yourself with a trash bag.

    OH yea, why was there a trash bag in the cell?

    No only is it bad enough that this happened but the rest of the cops in the jail COULD HAVE done something, instead they helped him cover up the shit storm.

    Charge them all with murder.

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