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Mendelson defends D.C. police for pot bust

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee Public Safety and the Judiciary, is defending D.C. police for obtaining a search warrant that resulted in the arrest of a veteran CBS News radio reporter and his wife on charges that they were growing marijuana in the yard of their Georgetown home.

On Saturday, police executed a search warrant at the home of Howard Arenstein and his wife, Orly Katz, in the 3500 block of T Street NW.

Police allegedly discovered 11 full-grown marijuana plants and six 2-ounce bags of marijuana. Arenstein, 60, and his wife, 57, were charged with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana.

Following news of the arrests, some residents have taken to blogs to question whether D.C. police are wasting resources trying to prosecute residents who grow marijuana within the confines of their private property.

But Mendelson said he thinks police, who were following up on a tip, acted appropriately in obtaining the search warrant because it's illegal to grow or possess marijuana for recreational use in the District

"It is the law, and the District of Columbia is not the place where it can lead the country in legalizing marijuana, so the police are doing what they are suppose to do, " said Mendelson, who has oversight over the police department.

Mendelson noted that the District is in the process of trying to implement its new medical marijuana law that will allow chronically ill patients to purchase and possess marijuana if they obtain a doctor's prescription and buy the drug from a city-sanctioned dispensary.

Despite pressure from medical marijuana advocates, Mendelson noted that the council decided not to allow patients to grow their own pot, fearing it would be too difficult to monitor who is cultivating the drug legally.

"We can't have a double standard here," Mendelson said. He added that the cultivation of pot isn't necessarily a victimless crime. He said residents who live nearby a house where large marijuana plants are being grown can often smell the drug, even if it is not burned.

"The message is: If someone is growing marijuana for whatever reason and they get caught, there will be consequences," Mendelson said.

By Tim Craig  | October 4, 2010; 1:44 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Tim Craig  
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Comments

just legalise it already.

what a waste of police resources and so hurtful to otherwise law-abidding positive members of the community.

we are killing ourselves over stupid marijuana laws.

Posted by: MarilynManson | October 4, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

What would the conversation and expectation be if the arrests for this illegal drug crime was committed East of the River, rather than West of the Park?

Robert Vinson Brannum
rbrannum@robertbrannum.com

Posted by: robert158 | October 4, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Not sure what is in question here. Marijuana is illegal. Its as simple as that. If you have or do something illegal you get arrested for it.
What is there to discuss? They broke the law and were arrested.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | October 4, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

MarilynManson

So if they were from S.E DC and had the same amount of pot would your opinion be the same? No most people would assume the worse of those people and want to see them locked up. These folks broke the law and probably have been doing it for years if they felt confident enough to grow it openly. So why be any more lighter on them? They are just as much a criminal as the the jamaican guy who sells it in the less affluent part of town that you cop from.

Posted by: ged0386 | October 4, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I am just wondering who ratted them out. That is the bigger question. the only good rat is a dead rat.

Posted by: JrWorthy | October 4, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

If they are charged with intent to distribute, I'd like to know exactly who they were distributing (selling) to. I'll bet that would be a very interesting list of journalists and reporters.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | October 4, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

This is a waste of police resources. However, I understand the police are just doing their job, so I blame the lawmakers for not doing their job's. This is a failed policy that wastes valuable resources/money and needs to be reworked.

Posted by: tm28 | October 4, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for the cops doing their job and enforcing the law, but we're talking about DC here where there's a lot more pressing things than a respectable family with a few pot plants out back. They're not running a crack house, they have some pot plants.

Posted by: ASW02 | October 4, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Is it a waste of police resources because the arrest took place in Georgetown and the drug suspects are middle aged professional white people ?

Posted by: ellislawoffice | October 4, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Don't make it right boss

Posted by: johng1 | October 4, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

I say we start a write-in campaign against Medeleson. Was a lousy composer too.

Posted by: johng1 | October 4, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

The drug is as illegal in Georgetown as it is in any other area of the City. It s just that simple. I do not consider it a waste of police resources when the police bust up a drug house. My tax $$$ at work.

A crime was reported and criminals were busted.
End of story.

Drugs often come into Cities via private boats and planes and who do you think own these boats and planes?

Posted by: 2belinda | October 4, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

2belinda, it was home grown. Grown in DC. Not imported. Better keep your front yard clean. I may report you.

Posted by: johng1 | October 4, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

>>It is the law, and the District of Columbia is not the place where it can lead the country in legalizing marijuana, so the police are doing what they are suppose to do,

-----------------

And you are a politician who can rewrite the laws -- if you don't, then you can and will be voted out of office.....

Posted by: slydell | October 4, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

This would be a crime in Anacostia and in other neighborhoods east of the River and would be prosecuted. A very substantial portion(maybe half)of the juveniles in the District's juvenile justice system got their introduction to the system for alleged possession of marijuana. I don't see why or how our justice system should or can ignore more culpable adults who live in Georgetown and commit the same crime.

Posted by: esch | October 4, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

juveniles in NE, NW, SE, and SW shouldn't be smoking pot. Even if decriminalized, it should be regulated like alcohol.

No adult should be arrested for pot, for god's sake.

Posted by: johng1 | October 4, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

White Liberals wanting double standards LOL

Posted by: cr10 | October 4, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

MarilynManson

So if they were from S.E DC and had the same amount of pot would your opinion be the same? No most people would assume the worse of those people and want to see them locked up. These folks broke the law and probably have been doing it for years if they felt confident enough to grow it openly. So why be any more lighter on them? They are just as much a criminal as the the jamaican guy who sells it in the less affluent part of town that you cop from.

Posted by: ged0386 | October 4, 2010 4:01 PM |
---------------------------------

Let's be honest... these folks weren't selling and weren't planning on selling. It's harvest time and they probably had picked the first harvest. Six two-ounce bags is probably the first yield. It's very unlikely that any of this stuff would have found it's way into the hands of our youngins.

The Jamaican over in Anacostia is most likely not just growing for his/her personal use. It's almost a guarantee that his herb will end up on the streets and in the hands of our youngins.

Posted by: lingering_lead | October 4, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Jewish and white....how could the police department do such a thing.....they should be chasing the blacks over in S.E. right??

Posted by: TBONE86 | October 4, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

What! No Fenty or Lanier? No press conference? No PR propaganda from the Mayor, spouting “we're tough on crime, and if you do the crime you are going to do the time."

Dagnamit, I forgot, these are Georgetown professionals and their criminal acts are considered indiscretion. Damn those police, they should have known better to interrupt those prominent Georgetownians’ good A$$, homegrown HIGH!


Posted by: GoldCoast | October 4, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Marijuana laws result in a waste of law enforcement resources and cause significant damage to otherwise law abiding citizens, many of whom are minorities. There is no compelling justification for these laws. It is the responsibility of the citizens to ensure that counter productive laws are removed. We do that through petitioning and voting. Consider this a petition, voting will commence shortly.

Posted by: vmax02rider | October 4, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Why does a DC councilman have to defend the police for making an arrest per a warrent? Is it because the arrest happened in a certain part of the city to certain people?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | October 4, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Why does a DC councilman have to defend the police for making an arrest per a warrent? Is it because the arrest happened in a certain part of the city to certain people?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | October 4, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

There's a double standard. White folks in an upscale neighborhood breaks the law by growing and possibly selling pot. Black folks that happen to be poor breaks the law by growing pot and possibly selling it should go to jail. How racist and white of you white liberals and conservatives. There's still injustice in America regarding crimes committed by whites and the same crimes committed by blacks. Some say, Fenty was a post racial mayor. Fenty was the mayor for whites only that he pandered to, with the exception of his Frat. brothers and black elitist like Bill Lightfoot.

Posted by: illegalalien | October 4, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Its funny when politicians use the justification that the police are just doing their job. No, they are just enforcing laws that the politicians enact. You can't pass the buck to the police. Whenever I'd get harassed in college for riding my skateboard in the downtown area, the cops would always tell me, "Sorry kid, I'm just enforcing the laws. Talk to the people who write them."

Posted by: slydell | October 4, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

What about the thousands of illegal immigrants whose mere presence is a blatant violation of our laws that the police choose to ignore? Which is costing society more - a couple of elderly people smoking weed or 10,000 illegals driving illegally and risking the lives of our citizens?

This is a twisted, misguided application of police resources.

"Not sure what is in question here". Me neither BigDaddy.

================================
Not sure what is in question here. Marijuana is illegal. Its as simple as that. If you have or do something illegal you get arrested for it.
What is there to discuss? They broke the law and were arrested.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | October 4, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jackson641 | October 4, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

>>Black folks that happen to be poor breaks the law by growing pot and possibly selling it should go to jail.

-----------

First off, statistics show the blacks are not prosecuted for cultivating marijuana frequently. Typically, the arrests are part of a large grand jury indictment because everyone is snitching on one another; a deal is witnessed on the streets, or they are caught using it in their car.

Another reason for the disparities are because of the inability of many blacks to post bond and/or pay for adequate legal representation. Your current employment goes a long way too in deciding your fate. This couple will probably get a slap on the wrist because they are gainfully employed individuals who are not dealers -- they simply have large amounts because they just harvested their plants! However, when you go before a judge and you have not contributed much to society prior to your arrest, nor have much to offer afterwards because of a lack of education or job experience, then you show a tendency to be a career criminal and that is why so many are thrown the book.

Posted by: slydell | October 4, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Since we're on the white folk/black folk rag, I offer this as a white man to my black brother and sisters:

Stay in school, and don't do drugs until you graduate and secure a high paying position!

Posted by: johng1 | October 4, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

LOL@Johng1

Posted by: Ward4DC | October 4, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

3500 Block of T Street is NOT Georgetown. Lazy reporting or deliberate attempt to spice up a story?

Posted by: Effyeahterps | October 6, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

johng1 worte:
"Since we're on the white folk/black folk rag, I offer this as a white man to my black brother and sisters:

Stay in school, and don't do drugs until you graduate and secure a high paying position!"
____________

Talk to Dr. Bill Gates and ask him if his Harvard degree kept the police from handcuffing him and accusing the man of breaking into his own home.
The criminal justice system has and always will see color before the crime.

Posted by: GoldCoast | October 6, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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