Marijuana and Police Militarization: Mission Creep

Marijuana and Police Militarization: Mission Creep

Marijuana and Police Militarization: Mission Creep

How the war on pot has fueled SWAT raids and paramilitary policing.


The decades-long war on pot has helped fuel a dramatic rise in SWAT and paramilitary-style police raids across the country. Using aggressive tactics once reserved for standoffs and hostage situations, law enforcement agents break down doors and force people onto the ground at gunpoint, often simply for the purpose of serving drug warrants. Today, there are approximately 150 drug raids every day in the United States. Such routine violence inevitably leads to tragic results—Americans have been raided and sometimes killed over insignificant amounts of pot (or, in the case of wrong-door raids, nothing at all). The political forces behind such tactics are investigated by journalist Radley Balko in Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (2013, Public Affairs). With both Republican and Democratic administrations providing
federal funds and equipment to local narcotics task forces, police officers have increasingly come to resemble combat soldiers. “The best reform to scale back the overly militarized, dangerously civil-liberties-averse style of policing that prevails in this country,” Balko concludes, “would be to end the drug war altogether.”

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