Why the Pike County murders show marijuana isn’t harmless
Thoughts from a criminal defense attorney on the tragedy in southern Ohio
We hear it all the time as Columbus criminal defense lawyers: “It’s just weed … it’s not like it’s coke or heroin.” And from a scientific perspective, that has some merit. It doesn’t take a toxicologist to conclude that marijuana is probably less harmful than coke, heroin, or even alcohol.
But there’s a whole other side of marijuana’s dangerousness that has nothing to do with the physical aspects of the drug.
In order to have drugs like marijuana, someone has to buy it. In order for someone to buy it, someone has to sell it. In order for someone to sell it, someone has to grow it. There’s a whole supply chain that (for now in Ohio) is still all against the law.
What’s the point? Just ask anyone in Pike County, Ohio. Where there are drugs, there is money. And there is danger. There’s danger of getting stiffed on a drug debt. There’s danger of getting robbed of drugs or drug money. There’s danger of getting arrested and sent to prison or jail. And, ultimately, there’s danger of getting killed.
When dealing in contraband, it’s about the money. It’s always about the money. Then it’s about not getting caught.
It’s tragic what happened in Pike County. The more that comes out of this, the more it seems like it was about the drugs and the money and not getting caught (or all of these things). It’s probably fair to say that none of the folks involved started out thinking about the danger of the business. They probably didn’t think how their families could be in jeopardy. No one was ready for something like this.
At Yavitch & Palmer, we’ve defended narcotics and contraband cases for 20 years. And the danger is always there. Someone is snitching. Someone isn’t paying because they got caught or they got robbed. Or someone is simply pissed off at someone else. We don’t have a solution to this, but maybe we can offer some insight. Drug trafficking (if that is what was going on in Pike County, Ohio) is risky. But very few see the risk. They just see green.
This doesn’t mean we won’t still defend folks charged with drug crimes. We will continue to do that just as sure as the police will continue to enforce the drug laws. And this doesn’t say anything about whether marijuana should be legal — we will leave that to the folks in the ivory tower we call the Ohio General Assembly.
But as sure as there will always be contraband, there will always be money to be made, and there will always be danger.