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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After the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, bootleggers disappeared, said McNamara, now a research fellow in drug policy at Stanford University.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)

You can tell who doesn't get high around here, boy. These outrageous claims state that-- crime rates will go up, incidents of domestic violence increasing and, of course, those damned teenagers on your front lawn. The last thing that we want when we're enjoying our "cocktail" is a hassle of any sort. Vote: Yes!

If you really care about fighting against drugs, then JUST ONCE...do a DEA drug sweep of the Hollywood Hills.

You know there would be plenty of high-profile people to make an example in front of the "America's youth".


How can a man be said to be free if he doesn't even have sovereignty over his own body?

Judge Gray is a freedom fighter.

Let’s get back to being the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Freedom works.

Freedom is a gateway drug to peace and prosperity.

"After the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, bootleggers disappeared", said McNamara

So I am supposed to believe that all the Hemp Heads out there will stop buying from Johnny Pot Dealer down the street and lay down $50 per ounce in sales tax? Yeaaahhh, riiiight.

The passage of Prop 19 will make life much easier for those who place a high priority in, well, getting high, and will make everyone else pick up the tab for the increased public health and safety costs that will result.

Vote No on 19.

Makes sense but sorry its not going to happen. Do you know how much money there is keeping pot illegal? Do you think lawyers will let this happen? Do you know how much money the police spend on equipment and such? That's a lot of companies with a lot of money to make this not happen. And don't get me started on rehabs. First time offenders have to get treatment, which is paid for by the state. Do you think they want this cash cow gone.

When ever in doubt, just follow the money.

I was raised that there is a scourge that has flooded the earth-- drugs -- that not only destroys people physically but also their minds and spirits, and that we should love the drug addict and help this person regain self-dignity and -control.
This issue requires serious reflection, and not knee-jerk reaction, since DRUGS DESTROY FAMILIES AND INDIVIDUALS.
However, it is also sad to hear stories of someone sent to prison for years for having a small amount of marijuana on him, which seems a waste of money and a way to ruin a person's prospects/life. But, it is also sad to see bright, happy, beautiful young men and women destroyed and ensnared by drugs, INCLUDING marijuana, and how this makes their families and parents mourn as they witness their loved one commit suicide in slow motion or harm his/her body. The question unsefish and concerned people should also be asking is that if marijuana is legalized, how many more of our youth will become entangled in it? Is the real issue legalizing the drug or how the current law is perhaps unmerciful?
This reminds me of the drug courts that originated in New York that were used to help addicts recover and regain new hope in their life. The laws were made more merciful, but not thrown out.

There is a significant amount of money funding opponents of legalization that is coming from the drug cartels themselves. They don't want Prop 19 to pass. That fact alone should convince people to vote "yes" on 19.

There is another thing to consider. Yes, $1.4 billion is projected as tax revenue, that is true. But California would also add $14-$16 billion to its economy. That is going to get re-spent, and taxed again, and again. It will be worth a lot more than just $14 billion. It is also projected that there will be over 100,000 jobs created. This will be a huge economic bonanza for the state. Not to mention the auxiliary industries that are going to benefit, from restaurants and bars to tourism.

Please vote "yes" on Prop 19

Excellent article and we are provides tax filing services, tax refund, state taxes, tax calculation and more services are provide on online.

If someone is opposed to legalizing cannabis, they are probably part of the US for-profit prison industrial complex or a Mexican drug cartel.

Or a victim of Harry Anslinger's political career ambitions.

The question is who will pay for the increased social costs, associated crime, addiction, and loss of productivity? While the effort to de-criminalize use and possession of this drug makes some sense, the Prop 19 "solution" is only a half measure.
Until pro-drug forces address the additional costs that come with legalizing another drug, this voter is saying "no". Otherwise, this proposed new law becomes another unfunded mandate heaped on taxpayers at a time when dollars are in short supply. We will end up paying for a new generation of addicts, criminals and slackers.

There is something intrinsically wrong with a system in which only retired people can tell the truth.

Finally Judge Gray gets some attention, as a former federal prosecutor he is completely right, none of the people who depend on big brother for their jobs is going to openly disagree with the war on drugs, especially the prison unions who only care about warehousing more americans, so they can get more overtime and celebrity salaries. fine article, I am voting yes on proposition 19 and I don't support the cartels, and prisons are a "For Profit" industry, they just want to get rich by warehousing as many people as they can, I don't blame them for being greedy.

The Drug Cartels are running low on cash, if pot is made legal then the cartels will be in even greater trouble as a great revenue stream will go away.
Help to support the Mexican drug cartels, they have not completed there work in toppling the Mexican government.
VOTE NO in legalizing pot help the cartels a no vote is a yes vote for the cartels!

The L.E.A.P. website is http://www.leap.cc

Those who conjure up dire warnings of the terrible things that will happen when marijuana becomes legal seem to believe that drug prohibition is actually keeping a significant number of people from using drugs. Given that teens regularly report marijuana is easier to get than alcohol, and marijuana is supposed to be California's largest cash crop, I find this highly unlikely. The experience of Portugal bears this out, where drug use went down after decriminalization, as well as the experience of the Netherlands, where the rate of teen drug use is approximately half that of the U.S.

In addition, illegality tends to encourage risk-taking, so legalization may reduce dangerous behaviors such as driving while stoned (which, incidentally, is less dangerous than driving while drunk).

Legalization and the consequent lessening of power of the drug cartels may help with the illegal immigrant problem as well. If I lived in the war zone that is northern Mexico where over 28,000 people have been murdered, I'd want to leave too.

As for the "gateway" theory: it was invented by Harry Anslinger in 1951 while testifying before a congressional committee. For years Anslinger had been justifying marijuana prohibition by declaring that it caused "criminality, insanity, and death!" The LaGuardia report came along in 1944, conclusively stating that marijuana does NOT cause criminality, insanity, and death, so the congressional committee asked Anslinger why they should keep funding marijuana prohibition. Anslinger said that maybe he had been wrong about the criminality, insanity, and death, but he now knew (based on no facts, because of course there weren't any) that marijuana was a sure road to heroin addiction (something he had denied previously). Though there was nothing to support his statement the committee didn't challenge it, and marijuana prohibition continued.

You can read an entertaining history of our drug laws here: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/whiteb1.htm

Dont forget what it could do for fast food business too...Watch out McDonalds, BK and Taco Bell.!!!

@ Greg Maragos, who said:

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

Right, you're "just saying", and clearly, you're not "just thinking".

Murder, rape and armed robbery are violent crimes that take a horrible toll on society. Smoking pot is not, and does not. Are you capable of understanding the difference?

Legalizing the use of Marijuana would only lead to the use of harder drugs that are at the crux of most violent crimes.

The rest of our country is watching what happens with Prop.19. It's a common sense vote, a money saver and a money generator. Anyone who equates the consumption of a plant with "robbery, assault (CaliHater)/murder, rape, and armed robbery (Greg Maragos)" doesn't have a clue. But I guess that's why we have the First Amendment. So any moron can stand up and belch out nonsense to feel better about their small minded opinion. Theses people don't sound like they have a firm grasp of reality. As long as we have MARIJUANA PROHIBITION this PLANT will be equated with this kind of closed minded mentality, which is self perpetuating and ultimately self-defeating. Like racism and bigotry. This issue is a one way street for them. They believe only what propaganda garbage they've been swallowing for who knows how long, no matter how stupid it is. As long as marijuana is illegal, we are all at risk. Al Qaeda could lace a shipment to the US, and kill MILLIONS of "speakeasy" smokers. Most of those would be kids! Crime, death and misery run hand-in-hand with Prohibition. Simple History fact folks. California was the first to legalize medical pot. Now we have 13 other states and growing. Now be the first to END PROHIBITION. The rest of the nation is watching.

prohibition didn't work. the folks who rail about legalizing pot are the same ones who have a drink or 3 before driving home at night. but hey, THAT'S legal!

take the blinders off folks, and realize that legalization WILL happen...

Yes On Prop 19

The war on drugs failed. Since the US has criminalized these drugs more lives have been lost due to the illegality when you count up the innocent people who are caught up in drug wars created by the USA which has blood on its hand. Trying to criminalize any drugs in general is silly all forms of drugs minus meth have been around for million of years cocaine marijuana heroin and even during the 17th and 18th century in this countries existence and it didn't cause the society to fall apart. So what is the big deal now in the 21st century about these drugs well simply that is big business to put poor blacks whites Latinos and anyone else in prison than it is to legalize drugs.

40k a year to keep a man locked up for 1 year

Mandatory minimum sentence for an ounce of marijuana is 7 years

The price of an ounce of marijuana is $150 for the good stuff

Do the math 40k time 7 years = 280k for a $150 dollar bag of weed

Does the ends justify the means: War on Drugs Fail!!!!

Yes on Prop 19

Why is marijuana an illegal substance? Greg Maragos, try making an intelligent comparison between cannabis use and the acts you list.

Does anyone really still think that marijuana is illegal because it's unsafe or a danger to society? It's neither.

It was first made illegal as a means of persecuting Mexican immigrant laborers in Arizona in the early 20th century (sounds freakishly familiar, huh?- white people harassing and discriminating against Mexicans in Arizona). It was "taxed" and eradicated because petroleum companies saw hemp fiber as a threat to the new thing called plastic that they were making, and turning into rope- congress then as now, did their bidding and passed legislation to support them. Prohibition and usage penalties were re-visited as a means of controlling and persecuting black jazz musicians in the 40's and 50's.
Finally, Nixon declared a war on drugs during the Viet Nam war because pot was seen as a symbol of the free thinking anti-war movement, and ramped up by Reagan because of his hatred for the hippie counter culture and in general, people that think for themselves (people who think for themselves are anathema to conservatives).

Any references to "gateway drug" and "this is your brain on drugs", etc are ALL made up reasons to justify prohibition. It is well, well documented that Reagan's and poppa Bush's drug warriors twisted data to support their persecution of drug users (I'm talking to you, Bill Bennett). As WMD and "mushroom clouds" were lies to convince the weak minded to support the invasion of Iraq (in support of the latest idiotic and un-winnable for-profit Republican war, the war on terror), "gateway drug" etc are made up reasons to convince the weak minded to support marijuana prohibition.

The history of marijuana prohibition is one of the white power structure in America seeing it as a threat. The threat of Mexicans, the threat of black musicians, the threat to big oil's profit line, the threat to the pro-war narrative in Viet Nam, the threat to Reagan's lying nonsense, and now, a threat to the profits of the incarceration system, and unbelievably, the medical marijuana industry (yes, the biggest opponents to Prop 19 are those that make $millions growing and selling pot in dispensaries).

I don't think people in general should smoke marijuana, but that should ultimately be their own decision. So long as they are not infringing upon the rights of other it is not the business of the government to regulate personal behavior. I don't need another parent or spouse to tell me what's bad for me. I already know. If I want to do it anyway it's my own business.

It is about time that Prop 19 passes. If not the cartel will continue to prosper and the State will lose out on the money they should get. Look at all the money can make and save with the passing of prop 19.

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