Meth and Marijuana, Mistakes and Messes

“Drug addicts hurt only themselves, if at all.” “Drug suppliers would not have to resort to illegal methods if their product was at the least decriminalized.” “There’s no problem with smoking or eating grass.”

This is not the late 1960s, with its common refrain of “Tune in, turn on, drop out.” The science behind basically everything is there to be known, more so than ever before.

Are drug use and delivery victimless crimes? Thinking they are is a huge impediment to law enforcement, and to public health, especially when it comes to methamphetamine, and even marijuana.

Meth is not a crime against persons such as rape or robbery. It is not a property crime along the lines of stealing your neighbor’s grill or car. But there are still victims.

Meth operations are never benign. The chemicals used to make it will seep into the soil, unless they are flushed into municipal sewers, to contaminate communities downstream. Akin to toxic waste dumps, meth labs require hazardous-materials responses by law enforcement and support agencies. They might become Superfund sites if they aren’t already, and that’s only if there are any Superfund monies left. The manufacture of meth results in hundreds or thousands of hours’ worth of clean-up, never done by the makers nor addicts themselves.

Chemicals found by law enforcement have to be stored securely, beyond mere lock and key, as evidence for the courts, for however long it takes. The toxins can’t be allowed to contaminate the storage facility, officers, or transport vehicles, or wherever it’s bound for once the court cases conclude. Officers and court personnel must be paid for their time; the meth operators, having contaminated matters, can’t have their property sold off to cover debts like a bank robber’s car might be.

Addicts need treatment for their woes, yes, but part of the punishment should be to force criminals and users to stay in prison for twice or thrice the time it takes for an effective cleanup, then afterwards be compelled to do the same amount of time in community service, cleaning up after someone else’s hellhole or a similar eco-catastrophe, to emphasize the fact that they have not committed “a victimless crime.”

But surely not marijuana? Oh yes, it’s almost as bad.

Even in states where marijuana has been decriminalized, illegal grows go on clandestinely, and crime persists; users get into car wrecks and fights. Places identifying on paper as members-only smoke clubs are run as businesses.

California conservation officers patrolling the Emerald Triangle — an area of fertile federal forest — also have to try to stop illegal weed grows. News flash for dealers: you have no right to use the public lands just as you please, to shoot at the biologists who must now arm themselves, travel in pairs and devote all their time not to research but to cleaning up your trash — your shit. That is not your land, or water, it’s public property!

Beyond humans who should only visit according to rules and regulations, it belongs to the animals that are supposed to live their own lives there. Growers have no business putting out rodent poison against the native critters — which, once eaten, can also kill the top predators, fishers. Fishers and owls, squirrels and field mice, all belong there — you do not. And pot smokers? Unless that’s some backyard bud in your pipe or papers, if you don’t know or care where it came from, you are part of the problem!

Marijuana smoking in teens is discouraged due to their brains still developing. I have noticed, as the years passed, that young men I knew who got into a habit of regular pot smoking, did not then age into adulthood gracefully, but were stuck as emotional yearlings; they remained wherever they were when they first started self-medicating their issues with pot.

Maybe marijuana can relieve pain or seizures, maybe it can’t. Maybe it urges people using it to commit suicide — or maybe it “only” does so in the already-depressed. So much more study is needed — not anecdotes. This is not something to be rushed, however much one may demand a license to grow or sell it. We have to get all the details right, right from the get-go.


About majaramirez

former assistant instructor in tai chi chu'an; current TreeKeeper (#467); former Master Gardener; member of American Bird Conservancy, Audubon, Fraternal Order of Police, and Mensa; recently retired career cop; wife and mom.
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