Cargo Cult Drug Enforcement

This is a great example of what I call cargo cult thinking:  If drugs are sold in small baggies, then banning these baggies will reduce drug sales:

Tiny plastic bags used to sell small quantities of heroin, crack
cocaine, marijuana and other drugs would be banned in Chicago, under a
crackdown advanced Tuesday by a City Council committee. Ald. Robert
Fioretti (2nd) persuaded the Health Committee to ban possession of
"self-sealing plastic bags under two inches in either height or width,"
after picking up 15 of the bags on a recent Sunday afternoon stroll
through a West Side park.

Great idea.  But it seems that Chicago may not be after drug dealers after all:

Lt. Kevin Navarro, commanding officer of the Chicago Police
Department's Narcotics and Gang Unit, said the ordinance will be an
"important tool" to go after grocery stores, health food stores and
other businesses.

Huh?  We need to "go after" health food stores?

This is the weirdest bit of problem-shifting I have seen since Oakland started assigning legal liability for teenage littering to the McDonalds corporation


  1. morganovich:

    come to san francisco where our esteemed city council has decided that the public drunkenness and rampant alcoholism in a bad part of town (the tenderloin) would be reduced by reducing the number of stores that sell liquor.

    clearly if the guy who is passed out in a pool of his own urine had had to walk and extra block or two to buy booze, he would have, in response to the inconvenience, decided to clean himself up, go straight, and start an internet co.

    just like chicago drug dealers won't find a new packaging format.

  2. M. Hodak:

    Goddamn health food stores. I hope the cops nail 'em.

  3. Clint:

    And by "important tool" he meant "important new revenue source"?

  4. Craig:

    This will have the added benefit of stopping global warming, too, I imagine.

  5. HTRN:

    So they stop buying them locally..

    How long before They start buying them in bulk through the mail, or outside city limits?

  6. colson:

    So my next question would be whether they plan on banning metal spoons from restaurants so shooters can't gook off of spoons?

    Or, wait for it, they make Pepsi stop making cans that can quickly be converted to make a pipe.

    Ooh, how about banning bic pens. Ever wonder what a bunch of plastic pens that are partly melted without the innards are for?

    Oh, and we better get rid of any type of paper currency that can be rolled up to serve as a tooter.

    Hmmm.... balloons - work great for selling larger portions of coke and meth.

    Will they go after PVC tubing and funnels in hardware stores so kids don't make beer bongs? And how could I forget tin foil. Or in the case of huffers - are they going after hardware stores for socking paint and solvents?

    Any free-baser worth his or her own salt need tin foil.

    SOS pads - for those who smoke out of a glass pip, you put a bit of steel wool in there and after your are done, you can scrape the insides clean or smoke the leftover crystals stuck to the glass.

    I wonder if we could ban the paper that LSD blotter is put on?

  7. Zach:

    So they stop buying them locally..

    How long before They start buying them in bulk through the mail, or outside city limits?"

    First it was food-miles, next it'll be dimebag-miles.

  8. ErikTheRed:

    Wouldn't it be more effective to ban poor people and college students?

  9. Anonymous:

    It's a plot by big aluminum to increase sales of tinfoil.

  10. Sinister City Councilman:

    *Looks at the comments, scribbles notes, and grins evilly*

  11. Ben:

    The drugs are illegally made, transported, stored, bought, and sold. By definition, if the drug gets to the street, plenty of entreprenurial muscle has been exercised along the way. And these folks think the illegal drug people are going to give up because the little baggies will be banned in Chicago?

  12. DngrMse:

    The drug runners will just unveil their secret, (until now), larger-baggie technology. The only way Chicago can beat this problem, is by banning pockets. Sheesh.

  13. Frank N Stein:

    No one has made the "when little baggies are outlawed, only outlaws will have little baggies" joke yet?

  14. Dan:

    Meanwhile, in an effort to send more tickets to unwary drivers by using its system of cameras at stop lights, Chicago's yellow lights now last just 3 seconds - which isn't enough time for a driver (even one obeying the speed limit) to bring his/her car to a stop safely if the light starts turning yellow as they approach an intersection. Instead, they're fated to not get through before the light turns red, meaning a $90 payment from the driver to the city (I was a recent victim). Yellow lights in Chicago's suburbs, by the way, last 4.5 seconds. This is a pretty nifty way of trapping suburbanites like myself.

  15. Corky Boyd:

    Reminds me of a recommendation in the early seventies by a Los Angeles city council person who wanted to stop the grafitti problem there. She wanted the city to ban the sale of spray can paints to people who appeared hispanic.

  16. HTRN:

    Dan, be happy you get 3 seconds - the light on Hyland Blvd, in Staten Island NY, has got to be the fastest yellow I've ever seen. Probably 1 second or less. One of these days I'm gonna go out and film it and put it on Youtube. AFAIK, the Fed DOT recommends a yellow light 1 second for every 10mph of the speed limit MINIMUM. Most states have similar guidelines.

    The whole "cameras save lives" is a load of crap - they've been shown to INCREASE accident rates, even when the yellow time isn't monkeyed with, because people are afraid to run a yellow for fear of the ticket, so they panic stop. Add in the fact that they often shorten the times, and it's obvious what they want them really for. My brother briefly worked for the company who installed them here in New York, and he said the cameras paid for themselves in a month.

    Now, if they were follow the recommendations of the ITE(International association of Transoportation Engineers), who ACTUALLY DID A STUDY, and found that the best as well as the cheapest and simplest solution for reducing the number of people running red lights is to simply lengthen the yellow, even if it's already at the accepted minimums.

    But that wouldn't line the local .govs coffers with fresh green, now would it?

    A 5 part series on the redlight camera scheme:

  17. Dan:

    Hi HTRN - good post.

    I think it's particularly telling that the envelope containing my ticket was inscripted: "Chicago Department of Revenue."

  18. HTRN:

    Redlight camera's piss me off, because they're nothing more than a scam, and it's readily obvious if you do any research into them.

    Chicago Dept of Revenue? I'm not surprised. Let's face it, Chicago, New York and Boston are still to a large extent controlled by Machine Politics. If they had been outright honest, and said "We're putting up cameras because we want money and don't care if they cause accidents", they'd still get them.