Police Chief Ruben Santiago recently aroused a backlash of aggressive criticism for the Columbia Police Department, SC, after he publicly threatened an online supporter for having voiced his dissenting opinion regarding cannabis use on the departments Facebook page. The pro-cannabis advocate, Brandon Whitmer, stated that he thought the police should spend their resources and focus on arresting and detaining “people shooting people in 5 points,” instead of allocating time toward non-violent and peaceful citizens who consume cannabis in the comfort of their own home.
The official Facebook page for the Columbia Police Department [CPD] responded by threatening Mr. Whitmer, stating that he had given them reasonable suspicion to believe that he might be a criminal, thanks to voicing his dissenting opinion publicly on their page, and that they would consequently work on “finding him.”
Since the event, the Facebook page for the CPD has been bombarded by like-minded citizens to Mr. Whitmer, who have also expressed their opinions on the matter, most of which in support of legalization and decriminalization. What the authorities at the CPD have failed to understand, it seems, is that American citizens have a Constitutionally protected right to voice their opinions, even in support of something illegal, and this is true on the internet or in real life. Just because someone has a dissenting opinion isn’t grounds enough to stimulate an investigation into their lives. The majority of cannabis users are non-violent and peaceful citizens, but arresting them and seizing their property via asset forfeiture is a lucrative and profitable business for any police department.
One does not need to personally consume cannabis in order to understand the reasoning in support of decriminalization or legalisation, and individuals should not be afraid of the police when choosing whether or not to voice any opinion they hold. The public CPD threat has since been deleted from the page, but then the CPD police Chief Ruben Santiago took again to the department’s page to post another threat, stating that:
“I put everyone on notice that if you advocate for the use of illegal substances in the City of Columbia then it’s reasonable to believe you MIGHT also be involved in that particular activity, threat? Why would someone feel threatened if you are not doing anything wrong?”
But that is the wonderful thing about natural rights and considering the fact that they are not granted by government. The old “why do you need privacy if you have nothing to hide” bit is a tired routine of oppressors, and in the legal realm, more tangible evidence would be required to initiate any warrant or true investigation.
The police department operates as a mafia with a gang mentality, and the criminalization of drug use is the most profitable project and avenue for them to make money and expand their power. It is becoming ever-increasingly harder to see America as a truly free country, and not a cesspool of authority that will threaten and violate the privacy of individuals for simply possessing a dissenting opinion. If someone had posted their anti-slavery views online decades ago, no doubt they would’ve received intimidation from police authorities as well. We must learn from history, and become aware that just because something is deemed “illegal” does not make the prohibition justified or even moral. And public approval and support for decriminalization only continues to grow worldwide. Any citizens residing in a free nation should be able to voice their opinions without fear of intimidation from public servants.