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After the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, bootleggers disappeared, said McNamara, now a research fellow in drug policy at Stanford University.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

I agree with others that are sane, this is a bad idea! For a few that stand to make millions without ever taking on any of the responsibilty,this will only make the cartels richer by legalizing their poison. Let's see let's put these pothead stores right next to the liqour stores, then low performing schools and then a prison. In this way one will not need to travel far to get cleaned up at the taxpayer dime. And what crime is so important that the police are not addressing, currently? If we listen to this maddness then we should legalize all crime-then the crimial justice sysytem will not be needed. If this nonsense passes go buy a gun, quick!

Excellent article and comments; it is a fact that the machinery that makes money off of marijuana as an illegal substance will fight hard to keep it that way -- the border patrol, police, judges and prison industry. I don't smoke pot, and don't wish to start, but the hypocrisy its current status represents, and the waste of money, needs to change/stop.

Prohibition of alchohol didn't work and only made the gangsters rich and powerful while criminalizing otherwise law abiding citizens---really doesn't take too much vision to see the same thing has and is occuring with marajuana. Time to wake up and move on here. It's so sad this drama continues.

Tax Man needs a joint.

"Pot Babies" Bwahahahahahahahahahaahaha!
That's the most asinine thing I ever heard!

I can't even read it all! But I did glance over the babble. What he fails to realize is, alcohol related deaths will most likely decline.

Rehab. LOL

Call 911, I'm SO STONED!
Bwahahahahahahahahahaahaha!

Brilliant! This group is surprising to me in that I had begun to think there must be something intrinsically wrong with the thinking processes of most who go in for law-enforcement careers. How else to explain the constant barrage of fear-mongering exaggerations and misinformation coming out of them other than they must actually believe the garbage they promote.

The only other possibility is that their unions have the power and control needed to compel them to lie about it so they can at least feel secure in knowing they wont have to suffer the same drop in crime that made them appear redundant as that which followed Repeal of the 18th Amendment.

If that's the case, then that means they have deliberately manipulated society in such a way that the deaths and disease attributable to the black market and back-alley injections exists for no better reason than the publics perceived need for enough LEOs to contain it. A trade-off between the public suffering needless increased crime rates simply because their unions officials can then ensure job security to its rank and file members.

Think about it. If that doesn't qualify as a Crime Against Humanity, one punishable by death, I don't know what would.

But this otoh shows me there's another class of cop. One with class, if I may. Ones who gain respect by being respectable. And what society urgently needs to do then is to ensure that this class is injected in among the others, those whose cognitive shortcomings led to the extremely dysfunctional and violence prone group that is now the dominant culture within and among active-duty LEOs.

NEVER legalize POT. I work in the Correctional system and can careless about this guys who are out here dealing pot. This is the only career where a ex high school football player with no college degree can make 100k. We need more prisoners and more people in the system to keep us well paid and fed. I believe we should try to ban more items maybe even including a ban on alcohol...

More overtime for us....yes keep it coming... Daddy needs a new boat to take to havasu next season. NO TO LEGALIZED POT.

The 'war on drugs' is a complete and total failure. The American citizens are the real losers in this war. Recreational users get busted for insignificant offenses and their lives are then ruined with criminal records.

If there are any winners in the drug war, it is the cartels and DEA. Yes, I said the DEA. The drug war keeps the DEA happily occupied and employed, with the ability to confiscate and seize as much booty and cash as they can get their hands on.

Citizens speak up and endorse Proposition 19! Stop this insane, useless 'war on drugs'.......

* Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!
George Washington in a note to his gardener at Mount Vernon (1794), The Writings of George Washington, Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress)

Hemp is very much a part of agriculture in this country. You just don't hear about it. Take a drive in the 'Carolina's' some time. There are a lot of industrial hemp fields to catch your eye.

I don't know what I'm trying to say here except "Any Idiot can throw the baby out with the bath water or wonder where they left their kid. They don't need to get high to do that. I have been using Marijuana for 44 years and I have yet to have mistaken an infant for a turkey.

People are just running on fear here in the United States right now. Micheal Moore said it yesterday in that we usually jump to conclusions and do terrible things as a result. But we always seem to crawl back and make it all better.

This is America. I am a Proud American. If it's good enough for George Washington it's good enough for me!!!

Finally, voices of reason not funded by big pharma or lobbyists for continuing the status quo.

As far as the $50 per ounce tax some people have floated, that is actually not very much.

A moderate recreational smoker (i.e., one not using it strictly for pain-relieving medical reasons) would smoke about 1/8 of an ounce in about 3 weeks to a month. So an ounce equals 6 months to 8 months for one person, or divided differently, that $50 per ounce tax would translate to about $6 per eighth.

Would people choose to use safe, reliable sources to buy their marijuana even with this $6 tax? Of course they would. The only so-called "black market" for pot will be for people who are too young to legally obtain it, the same as with alcohol.

VOTE YES ON PROP 19.

Marijuana should have been legalized long ago.

$113 billion is spent on marijuana every year in the U.S., and because of the federal prohibition *every* dollar of it goes straight into the hands of criminals. Far from preventing people from using marijuana, the prohibition instead creates zero legal supply amid massive and unrelenting demand. The scale of the harm this causes far exceeds any benefit obtained from keeping marijuana illegal.

According to the ONDCP, at least sixty percent of Mexican drug cartel money comes from selling marijuana in the U.S., they protect this revenue by brutally torturing, murdering and dismembering countless innocent people.

If we can STOP people using marijuana then we need to do so NOW, but if we can't then we must legalize the production and sale of marijuana to adults with after-tax prices set too low for the cartels to match. One way or the other, we have to force the cartels out of the marijuana market and eliminate their highly lucrative marijuana incomes - no business can withstand the loss of sixty percent of its revenue!

To date, the cartels have amassed more than 100,000 "foot soldiers" and operate in 230 U.S. cities, and it's now believed that the cartels are "morphing into what would be considered an insurgency" (Secretary of State Clinton, 09/09/2010). The longer the cartels are allowed to exploit the prohibition the more powerful they're going to get and the more our own personal security will be put in jeopardy.

"I agree with others that are sane, this is a bad idea! For a few that stand to make millions without ever taking on any of the responsibilty,this will only make the cartels richer by legalizing their poison."

And if you believe that, I've got a 24pack of beer I'd like to sell you on a shady street corner for $200. I'll be armed, by the way...because you never can tell whether a supposed customer is really a hustler looking to rob you for all your pilsner at gunpoint.

In what sense is marijuana a "poison?" Interesting term you apply to a nontoxic plant that has never killed anyone in a 5,000 year history of use. You can drink too much water in a sitting and die from it; it is impossible to eat or smoke enough marijuana to die.


"Let's see let's put these pothead stores right next to the liqour stores, then low performing schools and then a prison. In this way one will not need to travel far to get cleaned up at the taxpayer dime."

Im confused. Your problem is with liquor stores? Or is it with low-performing schools and prisons? Or perhaps its that you pay taxes? All of these have proliferated despite marijuana being illegal. So back on topic- what is your problem with marijuana?


"And what crime is so important that the police are not addressing, currently?"

That would be VIOLENT crime. You know- the type that targets and directly harms other people. Are you aware that each year there are more arrests for marijuana possession than for all violent crime? Do you really not see a fundamental "priorities" issue with that?

http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Crime


"If we listen to this maddness then we should legalize all crime-then the crimial justice sysytem will not be needed. If this nonsense passes go buy a gun, quick!
Posted by: Bendi"

How breathtakingly stupid. Or we could act like sane adults capable of basic reason and logic, and realize that reform does not somehow mean that law itself does not exist.

Ok, for the last time...(deep breath)...
WHY exactly is pot illegal again? We need to nationalize this debate.
I forget what BS they brainwashed me with in 6th grade..

But, of all the dangerous consequences that are mentioned by the law enforcement (not retired) about pot sound a lot like the consequences of alcohol and perscription drugs. As far as anyone with a brain goes, "increased usage" of pot would NOT cause more crime, it would cause more food and sleep and laughter. Crime is caused by addictive toxic substances like cigarettes, alcohol and pain killers. The addiction causes crime. Sounds like these cops don't want to get off of their asses and go after real criminals (you know, the ones who hurt and steal from people). It has become a joke that police arrest people for a PLANT and sentence them the same as rapists. We have been lied to and intimidated by law enforcement officers and spokespeople acting as our doctors and parents telling us about the "dangers" of pot long enough. Like they would know anything about health anyway. I would like to see a debate between health practitioners and (not retired) police about the "dangers of pot. It won't happen because the cops won't show up.

So... WHY is pot illegal again?

First, currently possession of under an ounce is a $100 ticket with no jail time. The other marijuana offenses will remain as will possession for under 21, a big chunk. So how will law enforcement costs be reduced?

Second, each city and county will make up separate rules, which will be confusing. We don't know what those will be. Do you vote for something when you don't know what it actually is? There are no taxes in this bill and we don't know where the taxes will go if cities impose them. How much money will it cost cities to regulate marijuana? How much will use increase? Who knows?

Third, prohibition ended bootlegging, but crime went into drugs and gambling. Marijuana will still be illegal in 49 states. Cartels can operate from California to distribute to other states. Cartels can also move on to other drugs. Cocaine will be the next. Then we will have to legalize it to stop the cartels... Alcohol use among young people keeps increasing; legalizing hasn't stopped it. Young people still smoke tobacco; 20% of Californians do. Smoked Marijuana contains more tar and carcinogens than tobacco, so that is something to want to encourage by legalizing?

This is more about accepting recreational drugs as a culture. We used to have a tobacco culture until non-smokers demanded their rights not to be intimidated by smokers. People who don't do drugs are the majority--we have a right not to live in a drug-ridden culture with drug-ridden schools.

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

Well, memo, how about a fourteen-year trial period? If we were to pass a law making cannabis legal on a small scale, say for medical purposes... oh wait! We did that in 1996, didn't we? Prop 215, and we were the first state to do it... sounding familiar yet? ^_~

Yes, it would free up the cops to fight real crime
and raise much needed tax revenue.
It would also allow cities to cut police budgets.
Police unions do not like such subversive talk.

Here comes another one. Cut the budget,
from whatever source, federal, State, non-profit,
Koch Foundation, that allows active and retired cops to
harass private citizens who are not terrorists, or drug
dealers and who are being terrorized actively and
openly by non-lethal tech supplied by the DOJ after 911
in the name of Homeland Security.

I know it was happening before 911 but things
are really crazy with the layers of surveillance
and security infrastructure. I'm also talking about
creep fanatics who are stuck in the 1950's and J Edgar.
These are the guys who go nuts when they hear RNC
paranoid scare tactics designed especially
to push those easily manipulated conservative buttons.

Drugs are the worst thing that could ever happen! As a father with 4 kids, I have seen firsthand what drugs can do! My kids are all successful, maybe millionares, and they all agree with me. Drugs are for kids when parents don't care about them. My kids are all into athletics and business. And, making money!

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

Posted by: Greg Maragos | September 13, 2010 at 03:54 PM
------------------------------------

What Greg is "just saying" is that he can't tell the difference between a violent crime perpetrated against another person and someone sitting on their couch smoking a joint.

I'm a 40 year single dad who was born and raised in so cal. I grew up in a small town beach city. I have a great job, Worked for 5 fortune 500 companies, pay my taxes and have no criminal record. I have 1 speeding ticket in over 22 years of driving. I've been smoking weed since I was 18. And enjoy it!

When I was getting divorced my ex wife in spite told the judge I smoked pot and now I've been going through marijuana testing for over 2 years just so I can see my daughter without visitation from a 3rd party. It's completely rediculous. I've stopped smoking pot because my daughter is more important. Ya just like that after 22 years of smoking. It sucks but I know it won't be forever. I'm sure they're a lot of people in my shoes as well who just like to puff every once in a while but the legal system is so hardcore about it when it really shouldn't be. I'm looking forward to voting yes on prop 19 so I can have my personal life back.

Most people don't relalize that there is a legal drug that is much more harmful than pot, and that is alcohol. Legalizing pot will not make our sociaty worst, and will not increase crime. I you are against pot, then you need to research more, you will be surprice at finding out that is no worst than tabaco. Pot relaxing efects makes smokers less likely to harm other people.

----"First, currently possession of under an ounce is a $100 ticket with no jail time. The other marijuana offenses will remain as will possession for under 21, a big chunk. So how will law enforcement costs be reduced?"

It will be reduced because everyone over 21 will no longer be arrested for having a personal use amount or growing it. It will also be reduced because the violent black market activity associated with and funded by its sales would decrease to an extent. Far fewer people would go to jail for marijuana-related offenses. It seems like all of this is sort of obvious.


----"Second, each city and county will make up separate rules, which will be confusing. We don't know what those will be. Do you vote for something when you don't know what it actually is? There are no taxes in this bill and we don't know where the taxes will go if cities impose them. How much money will it cost cities to regulate marijuana? How much will use increase? Who knows?"

Those are all issues for us to decide in a dispassionate and realistic way moving forward. You havent so much pointed out a legitimate problem here as you have just defined the job of government in general.


----"Third, prohibition ended bootlegging, but crime went into drugs and gambling. Marijuana will still be illegal in 49 states. Cartels can operate from California to distribute to other states. Cartels can also move on to other drugs."

And not having to amass teams to kick down a man's door and aim guns at his family for growing a pot plant, police will have more time and funds freed up to go after more dangerous drugs and violent criminals.


----"Cocaine will be the next."

Is that what you say when someone buys a beer? Why does it seem so impossible for the anti-prop19 crowd to argue their position without trying to smuggle in the issue of more dangerous drugs which are completely unrelated and not being considered for legalization? Be honest- marijuana isnt scary enough on its own, is it?


----"Alcohol use among young people keeps increasing; legalizing hasn't stopped it. Young people still smoke tobacco; 20% of Californians do."

You dont legalize an activity to stop it, and that wasnt the goal with ending prohibition. The goal was to recognize that in a free society, adults can choose what they ingest. Freedom doesnt mean everyone is going to behave the way you believe they should.


----"Smoked Marijuana contains more tar and carcinogens than tobacco, so that is something to want to encourage by legalizing?"

This always comes up on this subject. An estimated 70 million Americans have either tried marijuana or still use it regularly. Marijuana has been used for around 5,000 years. Name for me one case of lung cancer linked to marijuana use. Name one person who has died from marijuana. Tobacco kills around 400,000 per year...so if what you are alluding to here is true- that marijuana is more dangerous than tobacco- we should have hordes of casualties and terminal cancer cases directly linked to it. Where are they?

Do you know what marijuana also contains? Cannabinoids that researchers are finding to possess anti-tumor properties.


---"This is more about accepting recreational drugs as a culture. We used to have a tobacco culture until non-smokers demanded their rights not to be intimidated by smokers."

Yes we had hysterical and pushy people like yourself demand that in California, if you want to open a bar and post signs saying that smoking is allowed in your place of business, you are forbidden to do that. Congratulations on intimidating smokers.


----"People who don't do drugs are the majority--we have a right not to live in a drug-ridden culture with drug-ridden schools."

Nonsense. People who use drugs are FAR AND AWAY the majority. Think about that the next time you turn on your TV and see how many commercials there are for hundreds of different prescription drugs with horrendous side-effects and risks of dependency. Think about it the next time you get a headache in the middle of the day because you missed your all-important "morning coffee." Think about it the next time you order a glass of wine with your meal. Think about it the next time you attend a sports event and see how many loud obnoxious drunks there are.

Humankind has always used drugs. The "drugs" you obviously refer to are ones you dont like or which your government has told you are wrong. No one is advocating "drug-ridden schools" (though I will tell you right now whether you know it or not, they already ARE) and that is a separate issue. What is being proposed is the legalization of marijuana for private adult use.

while I'm a 100% in favor of legalizing MJ there are pros and cons to prop 19. The link below is from a Northern CA news paper. The comments from local growers will provide some interesting reading why prop 19 isn't the bill that we want to legalize it.

Here is legal analysis by a 30 year attorney who graduated from Hastings College of the Law in the Modesto bee: in a nut shell he says Prop. 19 will supersede prop 215 and prices will probably go up due to a monopoly: ready it for yourselves here: http://thehive.modbee.com/node/20404

http://www.theunion.com/article/20100918/OPINION/100919758/1025&ParentProfile=1056

Legalizing POT is NOT legalizing crime!! What are people thinking when they write comments like that!!! Alcohol is legal, yet there are still MORE deaths from Alcohol poisoning and drunk driving then there is from Pot whether it was legalized or not!! Alcohol and Tobacco are both more dangerous drugs and more addictive then Pot ever was or could be!! Why are they not Illegal instead!!! More people die in car accidents then pot, Alcohol and Tobacco combined do we make cars illegal now?? So why not Pot?? when it is safer, less addictive then any drug out there whether legal or illegal!! legalize it already!!! All crimes will go down after that!

Legalization would not only put money in the States coffers, and free up police to focus on traffic tickets, but it would also free up overcrowded prisons of the non-violent inmates in for pot violations, plus save the tax dollars that pay to keep them there.

 
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