Cannabis criminalization helps law enforcement (perform unconstitutional searches)

Opponents of cannabis decriminalization often state we should keep it criminalized in order to help law enforcement catch bad guys, and indeed it serves as an important tool for justifying searches on individuals and premises. After all, these searches may turn up more harmful criminal activities or individuals with warrants. LEO’s will often admit that in many cases they are not really after the pot and may even ignore the offense if no other offenses are found.

From a public safety standpoint, allowing “I smelled marijuana” to serve as probable cause for search may on net improve safety, but we should reject this notion because these searches are basically unconstitutional. Cannabis use, after all, is not what most officers are really after; it’s a justification.

The Fourth Amendment was not created by accident; the power to search without cause can and often is abused by LEOs, and the especially militarized flavor of drug raids in the U.S. is often needlessly violent and deadly.

When cannabis is no longer criminalized, yes, searching individuals based on a hunch (without real cause) will be harder—the goal of the Bill of Rights was not to make policing easy—but consider if we had never criminalized cannabis and it had at least as many users as it currently does. Knowing what we now know about the mild harms of the drug, would we really choose to turn at least several million people into regular criminals in order to give LE the power to search them without cause and occasionally using violent SWAT raids?

No we would not and should not. If anything this “LE tool” argument is a reason to decriminalize.

Bring Back TSA Classic

At this point very few would expect that you should be able to carry metal items undetected onto a plane, so I don’t have too big a problem with metal detectors at airports. However, society has a general expectation that the image of one’s naked body is private, so we should certainly consider the new scanners a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, requiring some level of probable cause. Is showing up for a flight probable cause for suspicion that you have explosives on you?

Setting aside the question of constitutionality, there seems to be mounting evidence that TSA agents cannot handle the responsibility that this much power brings:

What happens when a terrorist successfully sneaks in bomb materials embedded under the skin? I’d guess the attack would fail for the same reason the underwear bomber’s did: our system already worked. Until all international airports with flights to the U.S. are outfitted with the new scanners and procedures, we still can’t prevent another underwear bomber (he boarded in Amsterdam).