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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Congressman Jared Polis Wants to Hear Your "War on Drugs" Horror Story

Posted By on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge Lay it on him
  • Lay it on him

Not every drug user's encounter with police is bad. Readers might recall the story last year when the San Francisco Police Department returned several pounds of marijuana to a medical grower.

But for every story like that, there's a Clark Freshman -- the UC Hastings law professor who was mistakenly handcuffed by DEA agents when they raided the wrong home. There's also the story of Bruce Rossignol, the Mission District medical grower who was legal and on file with the Department of Public Health, but had his grow ransacked and equipment smashed by cops.

That's nothing compared to the tale of Marine Corps veteran Jose Guerena. The 26-year-old, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was shot and killed by a Pima County, Ariz., SWAT team on May 6 during a marijuana-related raid at his home. Guerena was shot at least 60 times in about seven seconds; the officers, it was determined later, had the wrong house.

If these horror stories haven't brought you down, then it's a good thing you're not Jared Polis. The Democratic congressman from Colorado is apparently a glutton for punishment. He issued a clarion call for drug war casualties to share their tales of woe at a congressional hearing next week.

"The drug war is a waste of time, money, and resources. Worse, though, it ruins lives," he wrote in a statement. "Whether the War on Drugs has caused you or a loved one to be put in jail, thrown out of school, or lose a job, please share that experience with me so I can include it in my speech."

California cannabis activists have no shortage of stories to swap. Dale Schafer and Mollie Fry will serve 60 months for having 100 plants over multiple years. They are part of a litany of state-legal dispensers, growers, and distributors facing stiff federal penalties.

It might be painful to open old wounds, but it's a necessary evil, says David Goldman, a local activist on the city's Medical Cannabis Task Force.

"The drug war needs a human face, otherwise it's just statistics," he told SF Weekly on Thursday. "We need to talk about all the lives that have been ruined."

So if you were pulled over for having a puff of smoke exit your car, lost a student loan for a joint, or got fired from work for having a medical cannabis recommendation, please share your experience with Polis. He'll be glad you did.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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