Drug War Harms the Harmless
Ed and Audrey Cramer have the appearance of exactly what you’d expect. They are a sweet couple in their late 60s. Ed looks like he is a deft teller of knock, knock jokes offering neighborhood kids quarters behind their ear. Audrey looks like she bakes and has a sympathetic ear for community woes. There wasn’t much reported about them personally so it’s possible the quaint Americana presentation is a clever ruse for hardened drug traffickers but it’s unlikely. Backyard botanist, Ed, seems to be partial to hibiscus. The trouble all started when his hobby was mistakenly identified as cannabis.
The Cramer’s live in Pennsylvania where growing cannabis holds steep felonious penalties and a hefty fine. Oddly, any individual can brew up to 200 gallons of beer for personal use in full compliance of state law. The absurdity of this hypocrisy isn’t relevant to the Cramer’s because they were growing hibiscus, not cannabis.
Imagine the shock to the couple when the local police barged in, handcuffed them and put them in a police cruiser while they searched the home. As a bonus to this civil rights violation, Audrey was clad only in underwear and wasn’t permitted to dress before being placed in a police car on an 82 degree humid day. Ed, tried to reason with the local police, explaining that hibiscus wasn’t cannabis and offering internet information to show the distinction. The police were unyielding, continuing the trauma.
Rightfully so, the Cramer’s are suing and will likely prevail on many levels. What does this offer us from a larger view? It’s an opportunity to have a conversation about drug policy. Drug policy matters and there are long reaching effects. Our paranoia about cannabis has a negative impact. Putting that in context shows what it means to real people and real lives. This shows in bold relief how poor policy and criminalization of drug use results in trauma to many people. Let’s say Audrey had arthritis and Ed decided to grow cannabis to see if it helped? So? Let’s say their doctor told them to stay away from their pre dinner cocktail and they wanted to try cannabis? So? Let’s say they are secret stoners and like to get baked while watching Jeopardy! So?
Americans sanctimonious judgement about drug use hurts people. It hurts regular citizens, people in recovery, and people looking for alternative ways to manage pain. It hurts us all. It’s unlikely that Ed and Audrey have much of an interest In cannabis but they are paying the price for failed policy. The local authorities should be ashamed of their behavior. A call to local police produced no comment regarding the drinking habits of the officers protecting the community from Ed and Audrey.
Author: Joe Schrank, Editor-in-Chief