I was about to submit a column about Constitutional issues, about which I am an expert recognized by no one, when my concentration was interrupted by a helicopter. It did not just pass high overhead as helos usually do. Soon joined by another; they circled for an hour. My first thought was search and rescue, but the yellow choppers never went out to sea, just circled my peaceful law abiding neighborhood. This is not the first time.
Back in 2011 the tranquility of my quiet South Kona neighborhood was shattered as multiple helicopters thundered directly overhead for over three hours. Neighbors reported large numbers of police vehicles, including a gigantic SWAT type van. I know what inner city residents are subjected to. Normally we hear a helicopter a day, maybe two. The number of overflights had been increasing for several days, then that day all hell broke loose. Was it an invasion; a hostage situation; an act of terrorism? No. Somebody maybe spotted a pot plant. I was asked several police agencies why most claimed “It’s not us”. I eventually got the bizarre answer that some of your neighbors may choose to engage in an illegal activity. Somehow that justified harassing the rest of us. (A few do have medical marijuana cards)
Green Harvest goes on with no evidence of public benefit. Friday I made three calls and got to the State Narcotics Enforcement Division of The Department of Public Safety: Safety! I asked (8296359) if they were responding to a complaint and learned that they were “conduction a mission” bureauspeak for looking-for-trouble. I was told if no one came knocking on my door don’t worry about it. New fiscal year, coffers brimming with cash, let’s turn taxpayer dollars into noise and maybe find a few MJ plants. With any luck we get some overtime and convict some kid of the heinous crime of growing grass that nobody but Jeff Sessions cares about. That’s when the light went on. The citizens of Hawaii and basically most of the US, maybe the world have made it clear that they do not consider cannabis a problem. We even voted to tell the Hawaii Police to make it their lowest priority.
Now we have a new Attorney General and Howdy Doody, look-alike, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III who wants to go back to the failed nineteen seventies policies of Nixon’s all-out War On Drugs. Prosecute anyone you can especially if they are not white. Hawaii’s got plenty of not white. Fill the jails at any cost: Minimum sentences, Life in jail for possession of 29 grams. Now I suspect there is a flood of Federal money to fly helicopters ($700 an hour). Put those kids in jail at up to $200,000 a year and a broken family. What’s $200,000 here and $200,000 there when you are on a mission like Carrie Nation or Harry Anslinger? Protect America from Reefer Madness.
Harry Anslinger - Google him- campaigned with religious fervor against demon marihuana. (Prohibition had just ended. The G-Men needed new boogiemen) if you believe his followers weed’s more deadly that heroin, causes people to go crazy with lust, commit heinous crimes, and “reefer makes darkies think there as good as a white man.” There is no evidence of any of those claims. It’s most serious faults are making people indolent and hungry; overdose has killed exactly zero Americans.
His motivation may have been mostly racial, Mexicans, blacks and entertainers were the primary users, in fact it had been mostly called hemp or cannabis until the Spanish name was picked to emphasize its foreignness.
I think our county police are a professional organization motivated to do what’s right for the people of Hawaii, but Federal pressure and Federal funding can tilt the scale. So let’s hear from the Governor. Why are to people of rural Hawaii targeted and harassed by this mission nobody wants?
Ken Obenski is a forensic engineer, now safety and freedom advocate in South Kona. He writes a semi-monthly column for West Hawaii Today. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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