Today at press conferences in Oakland and Los Angeles, a group of police officers, judges and prosecutors released the following letter of endorsement for Prop. 19/marijuana legalization signed by dozens of law enforcers from across California.Law Enforcers Say Control and Tax Cannabis to Protect Public Safety
To the Voters of California:
As police officers, judges, prosecutors, corrections officials and others who have labored to enforce the laws that seek to prohibit cannabis (marijuana) use, and who have witnessed the abysmal failure of this current criminalization approach, we stand together in calling for new laws that will effectively control and tax cannabis.
As criminal justice professionals, we have seen with our own eyes that keeping cannabis illegal damages public safety -- for cannabis consumers and non-consumers alike. We’ve also seen that prohibition sometimes has tragic consequences for the law enforcers charged with putting their lives on the line to enforce it. The only groups that benefit from continuing to keep marijuana illegal are the violent gangs and cartels that control its distribution and reap immense profits from it through the black market.
If California's voters make the sensible decision to effectively control and tax cannabis this November, it will eliminate illegal marijuana distribution networks, just as ending alcohol prohibition put a stop to violent and corrupting gangsters' control of beer, wine and liquor sales.
As law enforcement professionals, we especially want voters to understand that legalization will allow us to do our jobs more effectively and safely. In 2008, there were over 60,000 arrests for simple misdemeanor cannabis possession in California, yet nearly 60,000 violent crimes went unsolved in our state that same year. When we change our cannabis laws, police officers will no longer have to waste time on low-level cannabis arrests; we'll be able to focus on protecting the public from murderers, rapists, drunk drivers and burglars. Cannabis cases will no longer clog up court dockets. And room in our costly, overflowing prisons will be freed up when we stop locking people up just because they tested positive for cannabis while on probation.
Because of all the overhead and administrative savings that legalization will generate, our criminal justice apparatus will have more resources to keep more good law enforcers employed serving the public in this time of fiscal turmoil. Ending prohibition will also put a stop to other crimes and problems caused by the illegal marijuana market, such as robberies, gang warfare, gun-running and house fires caused by underground grow operations.
Controlling marijuana through a regulated system will also reduce its availability to kids. Right now, illegal dealers have no incentive to check IDs or avoid selling to juveniles, given that the market is illegal for everyone. But under adult legalization, licensed cannabis businesses will face penalties and consequences that will effectively deter underage sales. Indeed, a recent study from Columbia University shows that teens currently find it easier to purchase illegal marijuana than age-regulated alcohol.
And, because marijuana is illegal and unregulated, its producers aren’t required to do any quality control or safety evaluation, and sometimes it is adulterated with other drugs or harmful chemicals. While law enforcers understand that every drug has the potential for abuse, making cannabis illegal has made it much more dangerous than it otherwise would be under effective regulation.
Please join us in supporting the sensible solution to California’s failed cannabis policies. Let’s vote to control and tax cannabis this November – for safety’s sake.
Former Deputy Sheriff, Los Angeles Sheriff's Dept.
Deputy Sheriff, King County Sheriff's Dept. (Ret.)
Former Community Prosecutor, Oakland City Attorney's Office
L. Lawrence Baird
Former Senior Reserve Park Ranger, Orange County
Correctional Officer, California Department of Corrections (Ret.)
Former Officer, Wheatland Police Department
Former Deputy, Sutter County Sheriff's Office
Deputy District Attorney, County of Riverside District Attorney's Office (Ret.)
Captain, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (Ret.)
William John Cox
Former Officer, El Cajon Police Department
Former Sergeant, Los Angeles Police Department
Former Deputy, Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
Retired Supervising Trial Counsel, State Bar of California
Former Officer, San Francisco Police Department
Narcotics Officer, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.)
Deputy Chief, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.)
Officer, Lakeport Police Department (Ret.)
District Attorney, County of Humboldt
Dr. Nina Graves
Former Military Police, Santa Barbara
Judge, Superior Court of Orange County (Ret.)
Former San Francisco District Attorney
Former Narcotics Detective, San Jose Police Department, DEA Task Force
Former Officer, Torrance Police Department
Leo E. Laurence
Former Biker Enforcement Task Force Member, San Diego District Attorney's Office
Former Deputy Sheriff, Missouri
Correctional Peace Officer (Ret.), State of California Department of Corrections
Former Yolo County Sheriff’s Office
Former Sacramento Port Police Department
Former Senior Police Specialist, Police Assessment Resources Center, Los Angeles, CA
Former Detective, Vancouver Police Department
Chief of Police, San Jose Police Department (Ret.)
Deputy Probation Officer, Mohave County Probation Department
Police Officer, Needles Police Department (Ret.)
Sheriff, Genesee County, MI (Ret.)
University of Phoenix, Southern California campus
John A. Russo
Oakland City Attorney
Former Deputy Sheriff, Contra Costa County Office of the Sheriff
Former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles
Former Administrative Law Judge California State
Former Federal Labor Prosecutor San Francisco
Senior Deputy District Attorney, Humboldt County (Ret.)
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (Ret.)
Executive Assistant Chief of Police, San Diego Police Department (Ret.)
Chief of Police, Seattle Police Department (Ret.)
Former Reserve Deputy Sheriff, Los Angeles County
All agency affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.