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Ferndale Raid Underscores Silliness of Drug War

I remember when Ronald Reagan launched that ridiculous and ill-defined War on Drugs back in the 1980s, a war, as it turned out, that would be waged less in the cocoa fields of Colombia than in the streets of poor neighborhoods in cities like Detroit. Little good came of it, of course, but it seemed like such an easy sell back then, what with all the images of armed drug gangs wreaking havoc with AK-47s in urban centers across the land.

Now, decades later, with the crack hysteria largely behind us and our nation's prisons bulging with low-level drug offenders and nonviolent users, you'd figure we'd be evolved enough to move away from the draconian measures that have proven so ineffective at curtailing drug use. (More on Learning How to Grow Medical Marijuana)

Leave it to the Oakland County Sheriff's Department, though, to keep driving jackboots into the ribcage of a dead horse, mere days after the City Council of Ferndale, Mich., lifted a moratorium on medical marijuana businesses in the Detroit suburb.

"They had patients on the ground. There were cancer patients on the ground, senior citizens on the ground and staff on the ground. They raided all of our partners' homes while their kids were home. They were taking their TVs like we were drug dealers," Richmond said.

Richmond said police took HIPPA-protected documents, all patient files and TVs from the clinic.

"I am in shock. They have not said why they did this," he said.

Apparently, the scourge has morphed from Young Boys Incorporated to old men with patient cards.

As to the question of "why they did this," even if the cops did say why, what would it matter? They are still doing this defiance of the will of the City Council and the majority of voters in this state. They are doing this in defiance of even the U.S. Department of Justice, which has said it won't prosecute marijuana dispensaries that abide by state laws.

And they're not the only ones still stuck on stupid with regard to effective drug policy. Not long ago, listening to a radio program, I heard a Detroit police official reiterate his department's intention to continue to go after marijuana growers, even if they operated in full compliance with state law.

How ridiculous is that? And what's so wrong with some of these law-enforcement officials — not all, mind you, as I'm quite familiar with some officers who favor drug legalization — that they can't let go of this unimportant fight? Why are top cops like Oakland County Sheriff (and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate) Mike Bouchard so invested in this futile notion that kicking in doors will, or should, stop marijuana use? And why do they refuse to honor the will of the people, even when that will stretches as far up as the White House?

Dispensaries such as the one that was raided aren't a problem. In fact, they've proven to be a source of both tax revenue and relief.

Truth is, the regressive forces that have spent decades needlessly demonizing marijuana have lost. It's time law-enforcement officials like Bouchard gave it up. Most of us around here are smart enough to know we don't need to be "saved" or "protected" from marijuana and certainly not from outlets deemed legal by the voters themselves.

It's time for the drug warriors to find a new fight.

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