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Legalizing pot would free up police to fight violent crime, law enforcement group says [Updated]

Legalizing marijuana would put a big dent in drug cartels and free up police, prosecutors and judges to go after violent crimes, a law enforcement group said Monday in endorsing Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure.

Proposition 19’s passage in November would decriminalize an estimated 60,000 drug arrests made in California each year, said former Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray.

Beat police would have more time to go after burglars, robbers and those committing violent assaults, he said.

On-the-job experience demonstrated the futility of trying to enforce laws prohibiting the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis, Gray said at a news conference held by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a nonprofit organization supporting Proposition 19.

“I was a drug warrior until I saw what was happening in my own courtroom,’’ said Gray, a former federal prosecutor.

Current laws are making pot more readily accessible to youngsters than would be the case if it were regulated and taxed by the government, similar to tobacco and alcohol, Gray said.

Juvenile gangs use pot sales as a recruiting tool, he said. Gray was joined by former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara in arguing that much of the money flowing to violent drug cartels comes from the illegal sale of marijuana.

Citing White House statistics, McNamara said 60% of cartel money stems from marijuana. Those who argue that a black market would remain aren’t paying attention to history, McNamara said.

After the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, bootleggers disappeared, said McNamara, now a research fellow in drug policy at Stanford University. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, based in Massachusetts, was started in 2002 by five former police officers who viewed the war on drugs as a failure. Neill Franklin, a retired narcotics officer, recently took over as executive director.

[Corrected, 4:22 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Franklin formed the group.]

Proposition 19 would make it legal to grow, possess and use up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use. It would also permit state and local governments to regulate and tax retail sales for adults 21 and older. State officials estimate passage could generate up to $1.4 billion in new tax revenue per year.

Active law enforcement groups, including the California Police Chiefs Assn., are opposed to the measure, saying it would increase usage and promote crime. Gray, the retired judge, said he believes that many in law enforcement support legalization but are afraid to say so because of political pressure on the job.

“They have a political job, so they can’t tell the truth," Gray said. “People are free to speak out honestly only after they are retired.”

-- Catherine Saillant

Comments () | Archives (125)

Legalizing bank burglary, robbery assault and other violent crimes would make Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray superfluous; but it wouldn't make life in Kolleeforniya safer.

What an idiot! Kolleeforniya -- what a hole.

I have to agree 100% with this article, that if we took marijuana and legitimized it, we would have more money and time to focus on more serious crimes. An estimated 60% of cartels money come from selling there SWAG. And that is exactly what it is, it is low grade, compressed, out door grown F'in GARBAGE. No wants stress anymore, no one wants stems or seeds, no one wants to be smoking weed that has CARTEL written all over it.

That is why medical marijuana is the best thing to happen since sliced bread, because you are not funding the cartels; you are funding private, mostly 'indoor' growers. And the quality is far, far superior to any of that crap Mexican stress. I would rather spend my money at a collective rather than fund street weed.

Legalize the weed, tax it, stop persecuting people for its use and start enforcing the will of the people. The people DEMANDED marijuana for years and are now demanding to repeal the unjust laws/ propaganda against marijuana and it's users.


What about legalizing it for a trial period? say, for 3 years and then make a final decision. could work.

I don't know how much tax revenue will be generated, but money spent
enforcing the law, including jailing and trial time will be eliminated.

More importantly, money that is now primarily going to Mexican drug
lords will also be eliminated, reducing their ability to bribe and threaten
Mexican officials. About half of their money comes from pot, so lets
eliminate that revenue stream.

When we incarcerate peaceful people for a plant, the victim is the person incarcerated. Prosecutors and cops will not look people in the eye, most of them know the truth and those that don't aren't very bright.

So there are two classes of enforcers, those without the integrity to stand up for what they know as morally right and those too dumb to realize the true nature of what they do to others for the "crime" of self ownership.

Nobody owns another persons body or has the right to control it, the laws are wrong, period.

Excellent Article

Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted every year in California trying to enforce the current prohibition. I'm sick and tired of my tax dollars being thrown away like this. You bet I'm voting to legalize. I'm a taxpayer.

Of course legalization is the way to go -- not just for pot, but for ALL recreational drugs...yes, that includes heroin. And we should encourage Wal-Mart to get into the business in a big way. Nobody, but nobody, can do supply chain management like Wal-Mart -- they'll put the cartels and their filthy gangs O/B in no time flat, and we'll reap the tax revenue. Ka-ching!

Imagine the police time and man hours that could be saved if we legalized murder, rape, and armed robbery. Hey, I'm just saying....

This is the whole purpose behind voting for prop 19. A lot less would happen with the passing of this Proposition. Less drunks on the road, less drug arrest, less wasted space in the jails and prisons. And we the people who are doing the right thing are paying for all this. And if we all voted for Prop 19, it would pay for itself and the drug cartels would have to go else where.
After what Sec of State Clinton said of Mexico, and then the dictator of Mexico said about AMERICA'S drug problem being the cause of the drug trade and drug wars. We can stop this by passing PROP 19.
Just think it over people, you only have until Nov. 5th.2010.

Legalize the weed, let's free this nation! Perhaps it would also help us get out of this financial crisis our state in in.

This is bad news for the pro pot movement. Why? 60,000 arrests? Think of all the lawyer groups that will have less work and will fight this prop.. Same goes for police who spend millions dealing with the pot trade. And don't get me started on the drug programs out there. Every single person who makes a dollar off having drugs illegal will make sure this cash cow is not led to slaughter.

Me? I dont do drugs or drink but I do like to see part of that 1.4 billion going to LAUSD to buy some books from this century or some after school activities like I had as a kid. Just saying.

Wow somebody finally makes sense....

Huh, imagine that?

WOW! It's refreshing to read an intelligent, reality-based article instead of Sheriff Baca's nonsense about "I don't understand why people want to drink or smoke pot."

Legalize, regulate and tax it. Vote Yes on 19 in November.

Yes, of course it would free more resources to fight violent crime, or even a "white-color" crime while wasteful spending on anti-Cannabis "enforcement" finally stops. I am grateful for the Endorsement, and I hope California will lead the rest of the States in the direction of this much-needed change in our public policy. YES on CA Proposition 19!

This is a good thing.. finally someone has the balls to step out of the shadows and condone this kind of use, let's hope it passes..

There 'ya go. Vote YES.

Just consider the BENEFITS of decriminalizing hundreds of thousands of folks who use marijuana. What, exactly, are the so-called benefits of making marijuana an illegal drug? Someone enlighten me...but please, don't include bs about how use of MJ leads to other, more potent and dangerous drug use--unless you provide cold, hard evidence to that effect.

"Follow the money" as Republican's are famous for saying.

You will find Judges, DA's police officers, their unions, politicians, drug testing companies and their owners. ALL have a vested interest to keep the war on drugs active and waging their phony war.

Prison is a "FOR PROFIT" Industry, never forget that fact!

The prison industry support politicians who do favors, they support Judges who send them prisoners. They support police officers & DA's who send them people to lock up for profit!

This is not only a shame on America but it's a SHAME ON HUMANITY!!



The only dopes here would be anti prop 19 voters. State taxes on pot, state run stores to sell it and state run growing grounds would provide much needed jobs for California.

Gray, and McNamara, finally two intelligent, credible gentlemen, with extreme clarity.

Congratulations to this judge for telling the truth. The only mystifying thing is why so many people have used and then denied or made a public 'confession' then come out against it... must have something to do with the cancer-like growth of the state and the weak political will to oppose said all-seeing state.

Sounds like Judgge Gray and Chief McNamara have already been smoking pot, they're either high or incredibly naive. No marijuana in this state, medical or not. Dope is illegal and dopers belong in prison.

I have a better idea. Throw out the illegals and you can lay off half the police force.

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