Pot-Dealing Arrests Roil Haight-Ashbury, Hippie Revolution Birthplace


San Francisco Police Capt. Greg Corrales has led 50 undercover busts since transferring to the Haight-Ashbury district in June to lead a crackdown on street-level marijuana dealing, reports the Bay Citizen. To many residents, the arrests are a welcome relief in a neighborhood struggling with aggressive vagrants and dealers. In the district that where the hippie revolution was born, police are jailing suspects for amounts of marijuana that, in a possession case, would amount to a $100 ticket. To marijuana legalization activists and residents who fondly recall the Haight of the 1960s, the campaign represents a return to a time of zero tolerance for peace, love, and weed. San Francisco once led the U.S. in its tolerance and celebration of marijuana. Now, marijuana legalization activists say it is moving backward. “The people of San Francisco have voted repeatedly they don't want marijuana laws enforced,” said Dennis Peron, a medical marijuana activist who moved to San Francisco in the heyday of the hippies. “It's a waste of time.”

Corrales, a former head of the narcotics division, is employing a tactic most commonly used to combat street sales of drugs such as heroin and cocaine. In buy-bust operations, an undercover officer poses as a customer and buys drugs from an individual he or she suspects of dealing. Ted Loewenberg, president of the Haight Ashbury Improvement Association, moved into the neighborhood with his wife in 1989, in the midst of a crack epidemic. He said the neighborhood's increasing opposition to marijuana dealers reflects just how much the Haight – and San Francisco – have changed. Tourism and higher income levels have attracted new homeowners, high-priced boutiques, chain stores and a Whole Foods Market. Residents complain about hostile dogs, excrement and trash on their front steps, and panhandlers so aggressive that parents hesitate to walk their children to the park.

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