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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Can the Local Media Ask the Basic Questions About Pot Busts?

posted by on April 23 at 14:58 PM

I just skipped a press conference because I had to run home before going to my other job. The DEA and local police are vaunting their recent raids of marijuana grow houses. If the coverage is anything like previous pot-enforcement coverage, this will be a crack-down, clean-sweep victory for police prevailing over the scourge of drugs.

As I write this, reporters are racing to summarize the story, with the answers to the questions they asked: What happened? When did it happen? Who was involved? Where did it all go down?

But did reporters for Seattle’s mainstream news outlets ask the next questions? The fifth and sixth tenets of basic reporting—those “why” and “how” questions.

Why are they arresting the pot growers? How did they arrest them?

The simplistic answer to the first one, of course, is that pot is illegal. But reporters wouldn’t accept such a trivial explanation when the question is “Why does mayor Nickels want to tax plastic bags?” Because they’re bad for the environment so we should change the law. That’s not enough. The reporters are investigators, and they look at the efficacy of each proposal, pot or bags, critically. The bag issue had two side, we were told.

“It is an undue burden,” said Mike Buchman, a spokesman for Solid Ground, a nonprofit that serves families dealing with hunger and homelessness. While he applauds the mayor’s environmental policy, “there are a lot of hungry people in our community, and every dime that can go to nutritional food is important,” he said.


“If the mayor really wants to get on the stick, he should go after plastic bottles. Or plastic wrapping of food products. Or how about a tax or a ban on petroleum-based plastic, period?”

So does arresting pot growers change the availability or abuse-rates of pot? Is there a better way? We’ve come to expect the different sides of an issue.

And the next question: How were people arrested? Were the raids conducted with guns drawn in private residences? Considering the dearth of evidence that drug enforcement changes drug-use rates – what this war on drugs is supposedly all about and a worthwhile endeavor – are the raids, which risks lives of cops and suspects, really appropriate?

The war on drugs deserves at least a fraction the scrutiny our reporters give plastic bags. So, reporters, can you ask all the questions and give us the answers?

RSS icon Comments


no, we cannot question the basic premise of drug laws or drug raids. thanks for asking, though!

Posted by max solomon | April 23, 2008 3:08 PM

So you ran home to toke a little herb before you ran off to work at the Gob Shop, and missed the conference.

How completely predictable.

Posted by ecce homo | April 23, 2008 3:13 PM

@2: Silly homo, the Gob Shop closed a while ago.

Posted by lime joy | April 23, 2008 3:23 PM

Note to Stranger: please put Mr. Holden on staff so's he can focus on the news instead of running to his other job.

Posted by lime joy | April 23, 2008 3:29 PM

So does arresting pot growers change the availability or abuse-rates of pot?

Not according to the people I know. At worst it appears to delay customer delivery by a day or two, as mid-level dealers redirect procurement and distributon, but that's about the only measureably adverse effect.

Sometimes I think a lot of these indoor grow-ops are simply set up with the expectation they'll be busted, as a way to keep teh cops preoccupied, thus allowing the major operations to proceed undisturbed.

Posted by COMTE | April 23, 2008 3:36 PM

@5: that's pretty fucked up for the folks that get to go to jail running interference for the volume dealers. i hope they're compensated well.

Posted by max solomon | April 23, 2008 3:53 PM

We have always been at war with Oceania.

Ignore the MJ Tax Stamps on display at the Pot Museum in Vancouver BC from the USA ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 23, 2008 4:12 PM


The thing is, according to other recent press coverage on this issue, it appears the folks getting busted are all part of a fairly tightly connected Vietnamese cartel that's grown up around these parts the past few years, and that it was their rather blatantly large transactions at a particular southend grow-shop that got them all in-dutch.

Also, from the sounds of things, the cops have a pretty comprehensive list of people at all levels of the organization, so they appear to be casting a much wider net than just the poor schmucks stuck tending the plants or transporting the finished product.

It would further appear that the smarter, more experienced local operators know better than to leave such an obvious paper-trail, and therefore are generally avoiding exactly these kinds of high-profile busts.

Posted by COMTE | April 23, 2008 4:23 PM

Ask Dominic

The Gob Shop moved to Market St. a few years ago.

2220 Nw Market St Ste 101
Seattle, WA 98107

Posted by ecce homo | April 23, 2008 4:57 PM

I think people should take very small, canvas totes when they go to see their dealer, rather than throwing away all of those Ziploc bags.

Posted by CP | April 23, 2008 6:33 PM

@8 Similar thing happened a couple of weeks ago in MN. Funny thing is the SE Asian dude running the grow house pulls into the driveway and entered the house WHILE the cops were busting the place, AND the local media were covering said bust.

Posted by jonesin' | April 23, 2008 8:55 PM

Another pot-growing bust. Another Dominic screed. Zzzzzzzzzzz...

Posted by tomcat98109 | April 24, 2008 8:51 AM

Silly homo, where'd you get that info? The internet? The Market St. location's closed too.

Posted by lime joy | April 24, 2008 10:07 AM

Yes, Gob Shoppe, RIP, not here anymore. And I'm pretty sure Dominic never worked there!

Posted by David Tatelman | April 24, 2008 11:58 AM

The question I didn't see asked or answered: How was it that the greenhouse supply shop owners were arrested? Is it illegal to sell greenhouse supplies?

Posted by free lunch | April 24, 2008 12:14 PM

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