The number of marijuana-related SWAT raids in the last seven years that have resulted in someone’s death: Twenty. The number of people who’ve died from using marijuana, in the history of forever: Zero.
Something here doesn’t add up. According to data compiled by the New York Times, the victims in SWAT raids range from people dealing dangerous drugs, to police officers, to innocent people or those who only have a very small amount of marijuana in their possession. No one is exempt from risk during a raid.
The list of fatalities includes small-time dealers and people who sold the occasional joint to a friend, as well as people suspected of dealing in more serious drugs like crack or meth, but who were found to be in possession of only marijuana after the fact. It also includes four police officers who were killed during the raids, intentionally or otherwise. The deadly raids are a reminder that an activity that’s legal and celebrated in some states — selling weed — can get you killed in others.
Among those who’ve died in raids are a 29-year-old who had less than a joint’s worth of marijuana in his house and a man who sold 1.8 ounces of marijuana to an undercover cop.
Some SWAT officers maintain that the measures are necessary, and that bursting into someone’s home in riot gear, weapons drawn, is the correct response to a “dope house next door.” As states start legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, and more studies show that cannabis isn’t a public health risk after all, the basis for justifiable raids gets more shaky.