Law enforcement officials from all over the nation have descended upon San Diego, California this week to attend a conference for the National Marijuana Initiative (NMI) and the California Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP).
The agenda for the publicly funded conference, held at the prestigious U.S. Grant Hotel from May 10 through May 13, is not available to the public. In fact, the conference is under the close guard of about a dozen San Diego Police officers and even some military personnel.
We do know that former U.S. Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey was a featured speaker. According to his press release, McCaffrey laid out talking points against California’s Tax Cannabis 2010 initiative. That’s right, your tax dollars are essentially being used to hold an anti-reform campaign rally behind closed doors.
Keep all of this in mind the next time you hear police insisting that they're "just doing their jobs" when they arrest people for marijuana. While it's true that many officers do recognize the colossal injustice of our marijuana policies, the fact is that large factions within the law enforcement profession are deeply invested, both financially and emotionally, in this great war against millions of peaceful citizens.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that their entire industry is rippling from the pro-legalization shockwave that surges before their eyes. Having failed on every measurable level, the people who took responsibility for containing the marijuana situation in America surely have a lot to talk about. And I'm not the least bit surprised that we weren't invited to participate.
But let's be clear: while these folks obviously prefer to plan their next steps privately, the same isn't true of the movement for reform. Our events are open to the public and our agenda is displayed openly for all to see. Anyone with concerns about the direction of marijuana policy in America is welcome to participate in the conversation. Rather than recoiling in fear at the prospect of new policies, the anti-marijuana crowd would do well to better educate itself about what we're trying to do and why.
After so many years of willfully ignoring the case for legalization, our opponents have been rendered hopelessly incapable of understanding and adapting to the discussion taking place all around them. Their only hope may be to begin feigning sympathy for our concerns in exchange for a seat at the table when inevitable changes are enacted. If police want credibility in the marijuana debate, they can begin by working to prevent outrages such as this and acknowledging that the current approach is very far from perfect.