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Texas police could soon be patrolling for marijuana in armored vehicles

Imagine sitting at a stoplight on your way home from work and seeing a military style armored vehicle cross through the intersection. This could soon be a normal sight for residents in Texas and other states across the country.

A number of police departments are making the claim that marijuana and methamphetamine are equally dangerous substances which must be combated, and the use of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs) are going to help them in their battle. Most sheriff’s departments are asking for these vehicles specifically to combat marijuana.

A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has shown that police are asking for advanced military vehicles for police departments nationwide, who have claimed drugs (marijuana included) are too hard to battle without them. Of the law enforcement departments requesting the MRAPs, nearly 25 percent of the departments state that they need them to fight drugs, although none detailed how they will use the vehicles to do so.

The Washington Post reports that nearly half a billion dollars of military gear was given to local law enforcement by the Pentagon in 2013 alone.

Why are police departments able to receive military equipment? This due to the Department of Defense’s 1033 program, which allows for police departments to request surplus military items.

According to Mother Jones, between January of 2012 and October of 2014 over 450 documented requests were submitted from police departments all over the country requesting MRAPs. Of those requests, 49 came from law enforcement departments in Texas. A few of those departments include Austin County Sheriff’s Department, Brownsville Police Department, Comal County Sheriff’s Department, Garland Police Department, Midland County Sheriff’s Department, and Texarkana Police Department.

Kent Holcomb, police chief in Nocona, Texas told Mother Jones when asked about his request for a MRAP, “You just never know from day to day what your job is going to consist of. The world is changing. With the way people are acting, you can’t predict anything.”

Mother Jones also reports that for Sheriff Terry Pickering of Bastrop County, Texas, a tactical vehicle would calm his fears of the proliferation of firearms—including, it seems, guns that local citizens own legally. “Subjects may sometimes be armed with high powered rifles and handguns,” he wrote, “as most of our citizens own rifles due to a long tradition of hunting and sport.”

Heather Fazio, the Texas Director of Marijuana Policy Project, told Texas Cannabis Report that she found the news disturbing.

“It’s quite disturbing to see our local peace officers morphing into combat soldiers as they cling to marijuana prohibition. They seem to want to increase the level of warfare in our communities rather than admitting that marijuana prohibition has failed. No amount of heavy artillery will change that.”

She adds, “The most responsible approach would be to reform laws and regulate marijuana like alcohol. This puts the market in the hands of legitimate business owners rather than cartels and gang members.”

Already this year hundreds of thousands of marijuana growing operations, many assumed to be ran by drug cartels, have been uprooted by Texas law enforcement.

The biggest find so far in 2015 has been a plot of land near the Texas-Oklahoma border in Lipscomb County where more than 109,000 marijuana plants were discovered.

Local and state authorities in Texas spent an estimated $746 million combined on arresting marijuana offenders in 2013.

With a total of 71,761 arrests, it is estimated that it costs an average of $10,400 for each marijuana case that goes through the legal system.

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Renee Cummings contributed to this article.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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9 Comments

  1. August 13, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    This country may end up with a second civil war… Over the right to use a plant to heal or for recreation. Are tanks really necessary? In the states where limited legalization or medical legalization mass hysteria has not broken out. Instead it’s been a boon to our infrastructure via tax revenues. There is no reason to have the war on drugs continue to include cannabis. A creator given plant. Go after the harder drugs. People who use methamphetamine are terrifying.

  2. August 13, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I see this may end in using the tanks against all citizens even those
    not with reefer madness power. Goverenerment wasting more
    big $$$$. Well that’s all, ant further and I’d start using bad words
    then I might get put away just for having a bad thing to say about
    the man. Peace to All BigLs

  3. August 13, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    The war on marijuana is just an excuse to cause a police state. It will be straight up legal in a few years. By the next President for sure. But if you ever had to deal with a whacked out crackhead. I completely understand why a person would want an armored vehicle. There just throwing potheads in because its still illegal.

  4. Jock Doubleday
    August 14, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    But depleted uranium is okay.

    • Abot Abbott
      August 16, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      If it helps the police feel more powerful it will be.(Sarcasm) It’s only a matter before they find some way to harness it in order to fight a failing drug war. Every time a commercial ad for alcohol is aired it is implying if not altogether saying that people on drugs are winning the drug war.

  5. Stfu
    August 15, 2015 at 9:41 am

    They prob have a main agenda that they don’t want anyone to know about and are using this as their main excuse on getting these armored vehicles.

  6. Alan
    August 16, 2015 at 8:21 am

    It’s called Jade Helm 15 it is a military exercise there doing across our nation…

  7. August 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I agree with Breezy Kiefair. A war is coming if the police continue to act this way. ESPECIALLY in Texas. Not wishing harm on anyone but it’ll be inevitable. People not wanting to get arrested or run down by morons in these tanks will take extreme precautions to ensure their freedom by any means necessary. That’s just what we need, maniacs with C4 and artillery weapons with hull piercing shells. The police are gonna make the drug war worse than any other conflict. Why not spend that money feeding and educating people in need. This will destroy the communities for sure. What if someone jacks one of those tanks? This will cause an uprising all because these evil men and women want to insist that God made a mistake. If this is the direction we’re headed then it’s only a matter of time before they start rounding us up to internment/concentration camps. They’ll claim that it is also a precautionary measure for safety.
    Alcohol prohibition failed, so has Marijuana prohibition.

  8. August 19, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    The reasonable thing would be to regulate all herbs as organic and leave it as that! Cannabis treats alcoholism. Hemp flowers aren’t just an alternative to getting drunk but therapy for a healthier brain… Marijuana is a gateway to veganism. It promotes non-violence. What is the point of shooting people and destroying crops? Anyone who still supports prohibition is profiting form it, one way or another. You’re either some scumbag on pork patrol, in an industry this plant competes with, or connected to organized crime. This style of policing is a domestic war of aggression. Denying sick people medicine is a crime against humanity. There’s no reason we should tolerate this, but stoners don’t shoot cops.