In 2013, Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. While some predicted legal reefer would be the downfall of society, studies show that crime rates in weed-legal states have either remained the same or dropped post-legalization.
However, recreational marijuana is only currently legal in 10 states.
So throughout most of the country, state governments are still arresting, fining, and jailing their citizens while wasting countless millions on courts, prisons, and law enforcement in the process.
According to Newsweek, nearly 600,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2016, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Black people are arrested nearly four times more often than white people for possession although they use the drug at similar rates.
A marijuana case was recently dropped by prosecutors in New York after it appears as though police officers planted weed in a car driven by a black teenager.
On February 28, two officers from Staten Island’s 120th Precinct, Kyle Erickson and Elmer Pastran, stopped a BMW sedan for failing to signal before a turn and having excessively tinted windows.
The car was driven by 19-year-old Lasou Kuyateh who was accompanied by three friends.
Kuyateh plead guilty to an assault charge in 2015.
The four young black men admitted to smoking marijuana beforehand but said there wasn’t any in the car. “I don’t appreciate being lied to,” Officer Pastran responded. “I know there is weed in the car. I smell it.”
Body camera footage shows that during the arrest, Erickson searched the rear of the car, including the back seat, without finding any contraband. Then, while searching the driver’s seat, he says, “We’ve got to find it. We have to find something.”
Then, miraculously, Erickson’s body camera goes off. He’d later claim it had a technical issue.
But Pastran’s body cam remained on during the same time. His device captured him searching the floor area of the back seat without finding anything.
A minute later, Erickson, still with his body camera turned off, is filmed returning to the back seat and fiddling with something.
Kuyateh, the driver of the car, films Erickson handling two small bags in the back seat and accuses him of “putting something in my car.”
Erickson tells him to “step back.”
Kuyateh is then handcuffed and his phone is confiscated.
After Kuyateh was arrested, Erickson’s body camera magically turned back on and, low and behold, he found a lit joint resting in a place that was had been repeatedly searched.
After the incident, Kuyateh spent two weeks in jail before getting out on bail. He would have to appear in court ten times.
The charges were eventually dropped against Kuyateh, citing the gap in Officer Erickson’s body-worn camera as the reason. An internal police investigation later found no evidence of misconduct by the officers.