Friday, January 14, 2011

Marijuana Prohibition to Blame in Shooting Death of UMD Student

CONTACT: Stacia Cosner, SSDP National Associate Director – (410) 299-3433
Lauren Mendelsohn, UMD SSDP (202) 596-7737

Marijuana Prohibition to Blame in Shooting Death of University of Maryland Student
UMD student group says legalization will end drug war violence

College Park, MD. – Officials at Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) charged today that the murder of UMD student Justin DeSha-Overcash on Tuesday is a result of marijuana prohibition policies that actually put young people in more danger than a system of legalization and regulation. DeSha-Overcash, 22 years-old, had a bright future ahead and was slated to graduate in June with a degree in physics and astronomy.

“This isn’t simply a drug related crime as the media is calling it,” explained Stacia Cosner, Associate Director at SSDP. “This is drug-prohibition related violence. We don’t see students shooting one another over alcohol, because it’s legal and there are no black market profits worth protecting.”

SSDP is joining DeSha-Overcash’s friends and family in criticizing Prince George's County Police for placing the blame on the victim, labeling him as a drug dealer simply because marijuana was found at the home.

"As Justin’s friends and family mourn their loss, SSDP members extend their support by emphasizing a positive and fair characterization of his life," said Cosner. "On top of his ambitious schoolwork, he also worked as a teaching assistant and at the campus observatory. He was not simply a drug dealer whose death could somehow be justified by the presence of marijuana in his home as police have suggested."

Lauren Mendelsohn, a member of the UMD chapter of SSDP, expressed her concern about law enforcement’s stated priorities in response to the murder. "A young man lost his life, tragically and with the killer still on the loose. The College Park community is seeking support and assurance that the killer will be brought to justice, but the Prince George's County Police blaming the victim is incredibly concerning. It raises serious questions about their priorities.”

“Police need to start looking at the policies surrounding drugs and evaluating the unintended consequences of prohibition. If marijuana were regulated in a similar way to alcohol, perhaps Justin would still be alive today," says Cosner.


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Doug W said...

“Police need to start looking at the policies surrounding drugs..."

No, they don't. It is not a law enforcement official's job to change drug policy. Their job is, obviously, to enforce the law. That means enforcing laws that the legislature has enacted, despite the populace's growing disdain for said laws. Why would you ask LEOs to question laws that allow them to reap asinine profits from the seizure of money and property, when clearly they rely on this income to continue their failed war on peaceful citizens?

Anonymous said...

It is really sad when the life of a young man with a bright and promising future is lost in the violent world we live in today - and the best response that the Maj Andy Ellis can come up with is, "he was a drug dealer, we found enough marijuana in the home to show intent to distribute", implying that anyone that involved in the distribution of marijuana is just another criminal, and their life isn't worth as much as another - what about the scum with the gun ANDY PANDY?

The war on Marijuana is a war on all of our young peoples future, yes even those who chose not to use Marijuana, they'll find another freedom of yours to take away... just watch and see!

Countless lives, young and old, have been ruined over the past 5 decades because they were a US Citizen, with guaranteed Constitutional Rights and Liberties, and made a choice to smoke pot rather than to drink alcohol - and 10's of thousands of good had working honest people have been jailed for years, if not decades, have lost a job, seen their families get destroyed.... theses consequences of The US War On Drugs will go on and on, and will continue to go on until WE THE PEOPLE, take our country back in the political arena, and put big business out of politics once and for all. Makes you sick to think that when the country was founded, the founders made sure to separate CHURCH and STATE, but didn't "think" to keep BIG BUSINESS OUT of politics as well - where there is money to be made there will be corruption - if Marijuana couldn't be grown so quick and easy, it would have been legal a long time ago - for the money!

Somehow, the MINORITY "big money" has control over us all, and has had control for most of our lives!The ideas and principles that this country was founded upon have been either dismissed, changed, overturned, or just plain ignored in the process of filling the pockets of the very very few, while the MAJORITY (that's YOU, MM, and almost EVERYONE ELSE that reads this) sits back and just watches, files a protest now and then - but in reality, we do not a damn thing to change it. Change we can believe in ... nice words Obama, but that will only come when we force the issue - not from a new president that can "just talk" a good talk -

To the family of Justin DeSha-Overcash .... and his friends

I am one of many that is sorry for your loss and agree that the prohibition on Marijuana was in fact the reason Justin is no longer with us. He was a good son with a promising future ahead of him. To read about him losing his life at the hands of a criminal with a gun and all the police can do is place blame on him just turns my stomach - and I know yours. May God and Justin's angels be with you and help you find the strength to carry on . . .

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