California Law Enforcement Still Vows To Kill Marijuana Reform

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Keeping it illegal
Californians looking longingly at the legal retail marijuana industry currently flourishing in Colorado and preparing to go online in Washington may be asking themselves, "Why not us?"

One reason why marijuana legalization has failed here, politicians and police like to say, is that the state hasn't yet "gotten it right" on medical cannabis, which still has no strict statewide regulations or Sacramento-level bureaucracy calling shots.

And the big reason why that hasn't happened is the police. In Sunday's Sacramento Bee, the law enforcement lobbyists who for several Legislature sessions in a row have derailed reform and regulation of medical marijuana vow to do it again.

It's worth noting that in the past, cops have complained that California medical marijuana law is too vague. Now, with Colorado "getting it right" -- and with an ex-cop running the show there, no less -- the story is that legal weed is a "sham and a fraud."

This bodes ill for members of San Francisco's delegation to the Legislature, one of whom -- Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, whose last year in office is this year -- has tried for years to get some meaningful reform of medical cannabis passed in Sacramento.

Last year seemed like his best chance yet, with a scheme to put weed under the purview of the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission supposedly supported by Gov. Jerry Brown (who has otherwise been very law-and-order as the state's chief executive). That bill, and a companion piece in the Senate introduced by state Sen. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg --no political lightweight -- both died following furious lobbying by the California Police Chiefs Association.

Why the aversion to weed? It seems to be in cops' blood: the notion that Proposition 215 has been abused to provide California adults a legal way to get high and that the voters were hoodwinked appears to be the prevailing wisdom among police.

This viewpoint manifests itself in some stultifying ways: the Bee's Peter Hecht notes that the former Colorado Springs police officer in charge of Colorado's legal cannabis sales was roundly mocked at a conference by California cops who chastised him for thinking that anyone could regulate such an industry. Of course, it's a little hard to regulate an industry when you are a powerful political force, and work overtime to kill the regulations.

Where exactly on the political spectrum law enforcement's views in California fall can be hard to pin down. This will be familiar to any state resident trying to explain the state's politics to family members elsewhere: the state is liberal except when it isn't, which can be most of the time and in most of the state.

For example, the Police Chiefs' Association opposed the homeless bill of rights suggested by San Francisco's own Assemblyman Tom Ammiano. It also opposed all regulations around medical marijuana, supported a bill that would have kept guns out of the hands of crazy people, and opposed a Republican-sponsored bill that would have prevented cops from using drones.

Mostly, their political involvement is ensuring that it does not become more difficult to do their jobs -- and treating a drug that for years has been their bread-and-butter for busts as a legal commodity appears just too much to handle.

And as an illegal drug, pot is a big-time commodity: California police have reaped $181 million in cash and property seized as part of marijuana-related busts, the Bee reported.






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19 comments
shampoovtaca
shampoovtaca

that's funny. Top down government, not likely but your welcome to try.  

MikeParent
MikeParent

We'd all be better off if the police focused on crimes that have actual victims!  Does anyone honestly believe that wasting $20 Billion and arresting 3/4 Million Americans annually for choosing a substance Scientifically proven to be safer than what the govt allows, is a sound policy?

brucemarsh40
brucemarsh40

I hate to say that the cops are right about not being able to regulate cannabis. After all, everyone ignored heavy handed sentences for decades, with millions of citizens smoking millions of pounds of cannabis. So now with lesser penalties people will ignore regulations that do not comport with the ongoing marketplace for marijuana. If you tax my beer to hard, I might try moonshine. Cannabis should be regulated like aspirin and tomatoes, being both a food and a medicine. Yes, stress relief is actually medical.

paullucas714
paullucas714

The ban on profits needs to be removed. If not the Police will seek any small loophole to come out and totally ruin someones life for doing the best they can to follow a law that is always in motion. The Police are only here to enforce the laws not make them. If we followed the example of Colorado and Washington Sates we can be flush on our budget in one year. This regime is totally insane and self destructive.

MikeParent
MikeParent

We'd  all be better off if the Police focused on crimes that have actual victims!

Wesley Chang
Wesley Chang

What, the cops might actually have to do something more productive with their time?

mahakal
mahakal

Putting medical cannabis under the Alcoholic Beverage Commission is not a good idea.

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

The secret lies in prison guard rape statistics.

Russell D. Kurson
Russell D. Kurson

Remove the Police Chiefs from the equation. Police chiefs do not make laws. And Marijuana will become legal in California. Its just a matter of time.

Anne-Marie Dumaresq
Anne-Marie Dumaresq

Police are NOT law makers. I don't want to sound naive or ignorant, but why should this be an issue? Did I not get the memo or something??

shampoovtaca
shampoovtaca

It was bound to happen. You cant fat'n up on Drug War slop and not end up in the butcher shop. 

mrericsir
mrericsir topcommenter

The cops aren't dumb, they know many of them will lose their jobs if they can't arrest people for phony "crimes" like smoking marijuana.

njudah
njudah topcommenter

people on all sides need to get it together. there are so many people who are pro marijuana but want it legal, untaxed, unregulated, which is never going to happen, and undermine attempts to legalize it and regulate it in a reasonable way like we do everything else. likewise law enforcement has to realize that it is the people who are the ones who make the laws, not them, and they can't keep fear mongering the public just to keep their few pieces of latinum. Besides some police departments are getting some nice monthly payments from medical marijuana dispenseries..you'd think others would want their protection money too!

diamonds
diamonds

And California citizens that support the legalization of marijuana for the tax revenue and keeping our young people out of jail for smoking it, will continue to practice patient relentless perseverance.   

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