Show-Me Cannabis released a comprehensive report today on the rampant misconduct within Missouri’s drug task forces. The report is titled, “Drug Task Forces in Missouri: Secret, Dangerous, and Unaccountable; A Thorough Exploration of Patterns of Gross Misconduct.” It is available now at http://show-mecannabis.com/2015/02/report/.
Today’s report, authored by Show-Me Cannabis Director of Research Aaron Malin, documents patterns of abuse and illegal conduct across the state: “Missouri’s drug task force officers, because of their multi-jurisdictional nature, are not subject to the basic levels of oversight common in traditional police departments,” Malin said. “In many cases, there is simply no responsible oversight in place.”
In recent weeks, the Missouri Department of Public Safety requested millions of dollars in funding for drug task forces. Show-Me Cannabis is encouraging Missourians to contact their state legislators in Jefferson City to request Missouri’s drug task forces be defunded and dismantled. Show-Me Cannabis is also considering legal action against drug task forces that violate Missouri law.
Show-Me Cannabis is an association of organizations and individuals, who believe that cannabis prohibition is a failed policy, and regulating and taxing cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol would better control the production, distribution, and consumption of cannabis than the current criminal market system does. The group seeks to engage Missourians in a serious, public discussion about the issues associated with marijuana consumption, including medical cannabis, industrial hemp, public safety, and financial analysis in order to address problems associated with the current, failed policy.
Some of the most egregious examples discussed in the report include:
- The St. Louis Metropolitan Drug Task Force denies its own existence to citizens filing open records requests.
- The MUSTANG Drug Task Force harasses citizens who attempt to obtain basic information about their public finances.
- The NITRO Drug Task Force pretended we had the wrong number when we called their publicly listed number to file an open records request, before admitting to the lie minutes later. NITRO maintains they aren’t subject to the Sunshine Law.
- The COMET Drug Task Force accidentally copied us on an internal email discussing how to best avoid complying with the Sunshine Law. They later attempted to avoid providing records showing the task force failed to maintain adequate oversight with the claim that the records could be closed under an exception to the Sunshine Law relating to terrorism.
- The Jefferson County Drug Task Force failed to establish an oversight board as required by state law (RSMo 195.509). Their commanding officer responded to open records requests by mocking our request and refusing to comply with the Sunshine law.
- Despite claims that drug task forces help combat the spread of dangerous drugs like methamphetamine and heroin, most of the state’s task forces primarily seize marijuana.
Missouri’s drug task forces regularly work with federal agents to circumvent the Missouri Constitution and pad their own budgets, all at the cost of our public schools. Article IX Section VII of the Missouri Constitution requires seized funds be deposited in a public school revolving fund, but drug task force officers routinely use federal loopholes to keep the money for themselves (and even use it to pay themselves overtime).