Heather Mac Donald vs. the legalization myth

Heather Mac Donald, Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a City Journal contributing editor, has written an important piece about crime, drugs, marijuana, and prison sentences.  She pokes holes in the marijuana myths that are gaining momentum nowadays, especially within the Obama administration.

First, she tackles the bad stats about crimes and the prison sentences meted about by race, which Obama buys into:

Naturally, Obama said nothing about crime rates. It is not marijuana-smoking that lands a skewed number of black men in prison but their elevated rates of violent and property crime. A 2011 study of California and New York arrest data led by Pennsylvania State University criminologist Darrell Steffensmeier found that blacks commit homicide at 11 times the rate of whites and robbery at 12 times the rate of whites. Such disparities are repeated in city-level data. In New York City, blacks commit over 75 percent of all shootings, according to the victims of and witnesses to those shootings, though they are only 23 percent of the city’s population. They commit 70 percent of all robberies. Whites, by contrast, commit under 2 percent of all shootings and 4 percent of all robberies, though they are 34 percent of the city’s population.

Next, she points out that counseling and other programs have limited results:

Moreover, it is hard to find an offender who has not already been given programs galore, whether “evidence-based” or not. “These guys have been through so many programs,” says an Orange County probation officer. The officer is checking up on a heroin dealer and user in Santa Ana. “I’ve offered this guy programs, but he’s declined. I’ve forced him into residential programs. We tell them to get counseling, they don’t show up. I offer people resources, but they don’t follow through because they’re addicts.” The dealer is not home, but his sister complains that nearby Saddle View Park is a favorite hangout for druggies and an easy place for her brother to get high.

California is no role model for the rest of the country if Prop 47, which passed in Nov. 2014, is any indicator.  It retroactively reclassified drug and property felonies as misdemeanors.  The result?

Crime increased immediately after Prop. 47 passed. “We had 10 years of crime reductions,” Los Angeles county sheriff Jim McDonnell told the Associated Press in August, “and all of a sudden, right after November when 47 kicked in that changed and fairly dramatically, very quickly. It would be naive to say that 47 didn’t play a major role in that. . . . People are no longer incarcerated, they’re not in treatment, they’re out reoffending on the street.” In the city of Los Angeles, violent crime rose nearly 20 percent through August 22, 2015, compared with the same period in 2014; property crime was up 11 percent. Shooting victims were up 27 percent. Arrests were down 9 percent.

Prominent politicians on the left and right are selling us a bill of goods.  We need to educate ourselves so we can vote wisely.  I encourage all readers to go to Ms. Mac Donald's article.

James Arlandson, Ph.D. (1994), has been teaching college and university for years and has recently written articles about the health risks of marijuana and not legalizing recreational or "medical" marijuana. His website is Live as Free People, which is updated almost daily.

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