Monday, July 17, 2006

Waterford Vice

Where would Saratoga County be without the uber cops of the Waterford Police Department? Probably neck deep in Petuli-smelling spliff-smoking fiends, each ravenously shoveling down bean and rice burritos while jamming to bootlegs of the ‘78 Dead show at Red Rocks. Oh, the horror. The horror.

Or at least that’s the impression these cops have set out to give via their latest press conference over a marijuana plant seizure. Indeed, more than a hundred cannabis plants can produce a sizeable cache of drugs –that is if such said plants ever grow to produce drugs. And in this case, it doesn’t appear as though they did.

Going by what was reported in the Troy Record and by News Channel 9, it seems as though the Waterford Police busted up a pair of unassuming potheads attempting to grow a cash crop to proliferate among their friends. But Waterford Police Sgt. Patrick O'Connell seems to think these two stoners –with their bongs and pro-mix –could give Hollywood’s Scarface a run for his money.

Apparently, so does the judge. Both suspects are now being held in county jail on $30,000 bail, an amount that’s not readily produced by a dope-smoking couple in their early 20s, drugs or no drugs. That means both of these people will likely rot in a tax-funded jail, eating tax-funded food and wearing tax-funded uniforms until someone they know can scrape together 10 percent of their bail to sacrifice to a bondsman.

Granted, marijuana is a dangerous drug that should be taken seriously. Some people who smoke it are dangerously at risk of spending most of the day on the couch eating Cheetos and watching Beavis and Butthead reruns. Others could end up not showering for several days, then donning a tie-dyed shirt and paisley skirt for an afternoon of bongo playing in the park. Yes, marijuana abuse has some dire consequences.

In the case of these most recent cultivators sent up the river, they’re bail is as high as some being held in jail for manufacturing methamphetamine or selling crack cocaine. The big difference is the later both have very pronounced impacts on the well-being of society, while the potheads generally don’t. In fact, potheads really don’t have much of an affect on anything, other than the attendance at the Phil Lesh concert each year.

Given this argument, the authorities would probably claim these two people growing pot would eventually use their operation to springboard into producing meth or selling crack, therefore their arrest rids society of to dangerous subversives. But is their any compelling link between growing weed and future hard drug proliferation that would warrant the taxpayers having to fully supporting two able-bodied members of society?

Not according to Dr. Pierre-Bernard Roques. A study conducted by the French research scientist in 1998 found that tobacco and alcohol –both which are legal among Americans 21-years of age or older –were the two substances that most often lead to harder drug use. Marijuana, on the other hand, was found to be rather innocuous in comparison.

But jail is a burgeoning industry that wouldn’t survive, were it not for a readily harvested crop of criminals to fill the cells of every new prison built. So Waterford’s version of Cheech and Chong will spend a fair amount of time in jail, then pay steep legal bills or have the taxpayers foot the cost of their public defender as they navigate through the justice system. When they’re eventually railroaded into a short-term jail sentence, maybe they can hang with 33-year-old Brian Carignan, who’s presently rotting in the clink on the taxpayer’s dime for growing weed inside his home.

All this for growing a plant that once grew freely and was widely cultivated across America’s amber fields of gold. That is until the government decided to stigmatize the cannabis plant for being nature’s drug factory.

True, New York has gone a long way to decriminalize small-time marijuana users. But let’s face it, when a pair of small-time cultivators are sent to jail on bail tantamount to a suspected crack dealer, there’s a few kinks in the justice system that still need to be ironed out.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horatio,

If you think this couple got it bad, read about Mark Young's ordeal in Indiana (the "Hose Your EState") in "Reefer Madness" by Eric Schlosser (of "Fast Food Nation" fame) or in this article from the Atlantic Online.

There's something totally out of synch with our judiciary system. Just look at how Schlosser describes the way "drug crimes" are ruthlessly prosecuted while white-collar criminality (such as the socially-destabilizing sharecropping practice on CA strawberry farms) is given a free pass.

FYI, the book is available on CD and in print form at the Saratoga Springs Public Library and is a fascinating read/listen.

Another interesting read is Lester Grinspoon's "Marihauna, the Forbidden Medicine." His son died of leukemia and was denied medicinal marijuana by the NY courts.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian carignan The guy mentioned in this article. Is from Saratoga NY. HE is a THEVING CROOK. That likes to rob glass blowers studios and rob there equipment.

and as far as him going to jail for growing weed. HE wen;t fora few weeks and got probation after narking on his buddies.
HES a freaking rat that should be in prison or dead.

7:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

^^^^This is the guy that ratted on him. Brian is a stand up guy. This rats name is Smutboy aka Jj james of watervielt. If you look him up you will see his lives in filth, has an IQ of 22, two crazy eyes that don't align and has a sexual relationship with his sister name meg.

3:10 PM  

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