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I can’t sleep no more…

Posted Feb 21 2012 7:52am

Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us that human error will exist, whatever the drug policy, and uses a recent police killing of an unarmed 18 year old to point out that the stakes are very high when anything is criminalized.

When people talk about ending the War on Drugs, or decriminalizing marijuana, or reining in stop and frisk, they are not simply talking about the right of private citizens to get high, they are talking about the right of private citizens to not be subject to lethal violence  at the hands of the state . … For all practical purposes, if an officer, pursuing an arrest, believes you have endangered his life, and can demonstrate that belief, he or she can kill you.

Now, this doesn’t suggest that our choices are criminalize or legalize and it doesn’t suggest that the costs of not enforcing drug laws are acceptably low.

There is no such thing as a problem-free drug policy, the questions we need to answer are:

  • Which problems are we not willing to tolerate?
  • Which problems are we willing to tolerate and how can we minimize them?
I don’t know all the details of this case and these things are usually more complicated than headlines suggest. It sounds like police may have been on edge because of recent shots fired at officers in the area. This interview includes leading questions that advance a narrative of police abuses of a minority community. I have no way of knowing the ways in which this narrative may be true or false, but the parents grief is heartbreaking.

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