Earlier this year I watched the television debut of the pseudo-documentary called Pot Cops. It featured the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, which goes after marijuana growers in the heart of Northern California's Emerald Triangle. Similar TV shows seem to sprout up like weed. Now that harvest season is upon us pot cops all around this country are out in force to save us from the evils of marijuana.
Until I watched Pot Cops, I didn't know what a fun job those guys have. They get to play Green Berets. Dressed up as if they are fighting in the streets of Iraq or Afghanistan, they carry military weapons, and drop from helicopters. But the real soldiers, those who fight in places like Kandahar, face real battles with real death and destruction. They aren't a bunch of overgrown boys taking on the roles of their favorite PlayStation characters.
This is what marijuana eradication task forces do this time of year, every year. They drop into the marijuana fields and take down a 30,000 plant grow. That's what they did on the Pot Cops debut episode. There were helicopters, ATVs, specialized four-wheel drive vehicles, weapons and more weapons, and all kinds of infrared gadgets. Some of the cops were even wearing $450 hiking boots made specifically by a local shoemaker for the "unique" terrain of Humboldt County. In the end, they made no arrests, because no one was there to arrest. But was this was a battle between task force agents and a band of Mexican cartel soldiers? The evidence was there. One of the deputies confirmed it. He said, looking right into the camera, "...we found a jar of salsa and a tortilla wrapper."
Are we better off now? Does anyone seem to suffer from a shortage of marijuana? Meanwhile, ask any ER doctor or teacher where the real death and destruction is. Every day around the country we see many of our young people fall further and further into the addiction of methamphetamine, heroin and other dangerous drugs. But you won't see any TV shows called Meth Cops. Fighting meth isn't nearly as fun.
Don't get me wrong. Unlike "pot cops," many police officers risk real danger fighting drugs and other violence every day. Their jobs take real courage and we give them far less resources to do it - to take on meth and heroin, domestic violence and child abuse.
Ask any cop (including a Pot Cop) what's more dangerous, responding to a domestic dispute or swinging on a rope from a helicopter about to land in an abandoned marijuana field. It is ludicrous we waste so much time, energy, manpower and money on marijuana eradication as if it the money flows from a fountain while meth, heroin and child molestation destroy our children.
But stopping those real crimes just isn't as sexy. Or fun.