The image that most people have of cannabis supporters is one of cannabis users alone. The truth is that there are many people who support our rights of consumption that don’t choose to do so themselves. Constitutionalists, civil liberties organizations, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and yes, even cops support legalizing cannabis! Why would a group of people who earn their living by locking away offenders want to support legalization? Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, or LEAP, consists of active and retired police. They say the War on Drugs is a failure, and they have the field experience to know first hand.
The biggest danger cannabis users face comes not from the plant itself. It comes instead from the illegal market that it is forced into by current law. Instead of being regulated by quality control and laws, it is a market ruled by violence. Cartels, gangs, and dealers only have one option to settle disputes.
Taking it out of that realm would save lives, says former Los Angeles Deputy Chief of Police Stephen Downing:
When we ended the prohibition of alcohol, Al Capone was out of work the next day. Our drug policy is really anti-public safety and pro-cartel, pro-street gang, because it keeps them in business.
Jamie Haase, a former special agent in Homeland Security’s ICE division says:
During my time on the border, I saw literally tons of marijuana come over the border from Mexico. Competition over the profits to be made from this illicit industry has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of individuals in that country, and an ever-increasing amount of violence spilling over into the United States, where the Justice Department estimates Mexican cartels now operate in more than 1,000 American cities.
The actual solve rate for violent crimes is worse than our economy. USA Today found over 70,000 untested rape kits sitting on shelves across the country. That is 70,000 rapists roaming free while police are catching people for pot. Over 7 million people have been arrested for pot in the last decade, 88% for simple possession.
Every arrest costs us more than just the taxes those people could have paid if they were in jobs instead of jail. We have to pay the salaries of those who arrest, book, prosecute, defend, jail, and monitor these offenders. These arrests cost us the time that cops could be spending solving crimes that actually have victims.
If you wonder why the police take so long to respond to gunshots, vehicle accidents, robberies, and 911 calls, look no further. Most units are probably still filling out paperwork on a good citizen who had a baggie of plant material in his pocket.
While the 4th Amendment should prevent unreasonable search and seizure, the drug war has killed it. Asset forfeiture laws passed supposedly to punish cartel leaders. Instead, the promise of free money for their salaries, equipment, and retirement funds encourages good cops to turn bad.
“Stop and Frisk” tactics penalize citizens for walking in public. They are so subjective in application, that they have been taken to court for racial profiling. Blacks and whites use cannabis in equal ratios, but blacks are arrested up to 8 times as much.
They stop people on the subjective premise of “Something in the air” and can literally rob them at gunpoint. Then, that person has to prove that their possessions didn’t come from a drug-related activity. Any first-year law student will tell you that proving a negative is nearly impossible.
It changes Peace Officers into Law Enforcement, regardless of the effect of militarized police on communities. Downing commented:
The overall effect is that we are losing ground in terms of the traditional peace officer role of protecting public safety, and morphing our local police officers into federal drug warriors.
There were no SWAT teams before the War on Drugs. There were no military-style raids of people’s homes in the middle of the night before prohibition. But that is our fear now.
The job of being a police officer is dangerous enough. Fear and mistrust because you are forced to search for and arrest people over a plant only makes it more so. Citizens overwhelmingly have lost their trust of the badge, and for good reason.
Baltimore narcotics veteran Neil Franklin says the liberties marijuana gives to officers in being able to detain and violate citizens makes up a huge part of that.
Marijuana is the number one reason right now that police use to search people in this country. The odor of marijuana alone gives a police officers probable cause to search you, your person, your car, or your home.
He says legalizing it could lead to hundreds of thousands of fewer negative police and citizen contacts across this country. That’s a hell of an opportunity for law enforcement to rebuild some bridges in our communities – mainly our poor, black and Latino communities. Too many police officers are killed or injured serving the War on Drugs as opposed to protecting and serving their communities.
Dispensaries check ID, dealers don’t. It’s as simple as that. Legalization means not only quality control but distribution control. Former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper says:
The only way we can effectively control drugs is to create a regulatory system for all of them.
If you are truly a proponent of public safety, if you truly want safer communities, then it’s a no-brainer that we have to end drug prohibition and treat [marijuana] as a health issue, like we did with tobacco. Education and treatment is the most effective and cost-efficient way to reduce drug use.
In contrast, he states:
If you support a current system of drug prohibition, then you support the very same thing that the cartel and neighborhood gangs support. You might as well be standing next to them, shaking hands. Because they don’t want an end to prohibition, either.
That puts those anti-cannabis leaders and our policy makers in a wholly different light, doesn’t it?
Do you think that the drug war has turned the police into just another armed gang? Do good officers suffer because of the policies they are forced to uphold? Sound off on social media or in the comments below.