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Why Do Police Really Oppose Marijuana Legalization?

The superb efforts of our friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition notwithstanding, police generally oppose efforts to reform marijuana laws. Initiatives in Colorado and Nevada were vehemently contested by law-enforcement interests, who claimed that reform would invite crime and undermine community safety. Sheriff Fred Wagner of Park County, CO even tried to link marijuana reform efforts to a recent school shooting.

Intuitively, there's nothing surprising about police lobbying to retain the gratuitous powers granted them by the war on drugs. Yet, as marijuana arrests reach a new record high each year, it becomes increasingly difficult to point towards any societal benefit to these costly attacks on otherwise law-abiding Americans. Because I believe most officers really do want to protect the communities they serve and make a difference, I have often pondered their willful enforcement of, and political support for, a war that endangers communities while failing to a make a difference.

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to learn that Joplin, MO Police Chief Lane Roberts has pledged not to oppose a local marijuana decriminalization initiative. Roberts correctly defines his role as defending the constitution rather than opining on what the law ought to be. But he goes on to explain that officers sometimes overreact to policy changes that reduce police authority:
When asked how his officers had reacted to the decriminalization of pot possession in Oregon and in Washington State where he previously headed up departments, Roberts reclined in his office chair and smiled.

"When that law was first passed, most police officers thought that the end of the world as we know it was about to occur," he said. "But, we thought the same thing when the Miranda decision came down." [Joplin Globe]

Miranda is such a wonderful analogy for law-enforcement's knee-jerk assumption that any restriction on police power will invite pure chaos. The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Miranda v. Arizona that police must inform criminal suspects of their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination before conducting interrogations provoked panic among police. Murderers and rapists would go free, we were told, and crimes of the most despicable nature would become unsolvable.

The result was nothing of the sort. Police simply became more professional. It turned out that the freakiest psycho killers still insisted on confessing their misdeeds, while the rest got taken down through good old-fashioned police work. "You have the right to remain silent…" has become a popular and familiar symbol of due process, and the horror show predicted by law enforcement has been long forgotten.

The point here is that it was the experts, the interrogation specialists themselves, who were so wrong about Miranda. Today, when police speak out against marijuana reform, they are motivated not by experience at all, but rather a fear of the unknown. Indeed, today's officers simply have no real frame of reference for what law-enforcement in a post-drug war America would look like.

I'm optimistic, however, that whatever our friends at LEAP can't explain to their colleagues will ultimately find a way to explain itself. Inevitably, the truth about drug policy reform will become self-evident each and every time it is given the opportunity to do so.

Update: I've posted a follow-up to emphasize the important point that a significant number of police officers actually do realize the drug war isn't working and continue to fight it anyway

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Lets not forget that pot

Lets not forget that pot smokers are not allowed to smoke for two good reasons: one, smoking is bad for your health, and two, you just can't take them seriously. The first; hey, I know people should be allowed to do what they want, but when you live around other people they care about each other and what they do. The latter; take for example the unthinkable things that marijuana abusers do, that they hide behind the deathly ill or those who will be just so they can continue to abuse a drug; as much as I think smoking cannabis should be legal, that thought makes me want marijuana smokers to never get what they want, the cowards.

But on the other hand, I think eating cannabis should be OK. Not many people would want to do it, but it wouldn't be so bad recreationally. Not to mention, growing it should be legal for any number of reasons, it's natural benefits only one of them. There are many things to be discovered from cannabis, from the botanical to chemical to genetic/evolutionary(for one example the interaction between American landrace strains and hemp brought from the old world).

One thing that really gets to me is that there are people being persecuted just from attempting to ease their own pain. I'm a sympethetic realist, and as much as I think that a majority of people dserve what they get, love for my fellow man wins out when it comes to medicinal marijuana.

But yeah, I think the reason

But yeah, I think the reason why police oppose marijuana legalization is because they are pawns. They only do what their told by the state government, and they do it to fill their quotas and get their slaps on the back for doing it. Actually, in states where medical marijuana is legal I think the DEA does most of the investigating and arresting, with the state only assisting, and the state may have been doing what has become a bad job because of it, as their attention might be wavering.

I actually don't think that

I actually don't think that cannabis CAN be illegal. I think that government can only control man-made enterprises. Their attempts to burn all cannabis on the face of the earth would only proove to them that the earth is greater then they are. Since cannabis is not refined in a processing plant, the goverment can't threaten to beat down the door and break up the operation as if their the Mafia or Gestapo. So it's only a matter of time...

It's the easy way out to stay in lock-step with the status-quo

It's the easy way out to stay in lock-step with the status-quo.

Knowing the right thing to do is the easy part, Doing the right thing or more appropriately, getting the right people to do the right thing has been ongoing since the 1970s with little progress unfortunately.

Ride it like you stole it

Having read almost every viewpoint,

Having read almost every viewpoint, I respond. (after which I rolled and smoked a beaut that has me lit as I type this)

I smoked marijuana for the first time when I was 16, so I have accrued about 6 years of weed knowledge.

Everyone knows marijuana is benign. We don't have a lot of research for obvious reasons, but I have read an article in High Times that says it actually promotes neurons. I think in about 20 years the stigma of the average burnout will start to fade because younger generations are wizened up about how things really are. It's going to take a huge overall public opinion change (Which we have seen recently) and subsequent voting change OR a lot of time before anything about marijuana prohibition changes.

Alas how ironic that's where marijuana fails: the typical lazy weed user fails to vote OR is embarassed by the social stigma and legal persecution.

It's really just a joke isn't it? Maybe the government doesn't want you to have that ONE thing you truly desire and will pay a black market price for. Unlike all the other "Schedule" drugs, marijuana has NO reason to be illegal.

Segue to my next point. Marijuana was made illegal, initially, only on racial views. Mexicans smoked marijuana (as they had for a hundred years, no doubt) and blacks in jazz clubs smoked marijuana (greatest jazz musicians?) and the two groups had a great time. Sensationalized by journalists that it makes you "kill people", the govt's Reefer Madness, and the Timber Industry seeing the threat of hemp, oh not to mention a guy named Harry J. Anslinger, and this all before white people really knew what it was (or presented the real facts of what it was) NEVER GAVE MARIJUANA A CHANCE.

And it's so disgusting isn't it? How they continue a baseless, and SENSELESS prohibition against a common plant. Wait, so the govt is in debt how much? $10, 000, 000, 000? And the cost to police marijuana is costing what? What's the real COST for policing, building prisons, housing nonviolent offenders. So tack on 'nother 100 mill just for the heck of keeping this "dangerous poison" illegal. Oh wait, I forgot, if marijuana WERE legalized and taxed like cigarettes the govt would make how much? Infinity dollars? We know marijuana is a $400, 000, 000 A YEAR industry.

The real debacle is the fact nobody can tell you WHY marijuana is illegal, other than referencing the racist, outmoded, and obsolete beliefs from the 30s.

My favorite weed paradox: Marijuana is kept illegal because it has "no medical value". However in some states it is legal ONLY for that very purpose. Amazing.

Marijuana predates the written word.

And having typed all that, I just had a creative epiphany frequent of marijuana usage.

The book and the movie "The Lottery" sum up marijuana prohibition perfectly: outdated traditions that are a detriment to society yet continued.

The last thing I want to say is: Yes I'm high and no im not laughing, madly looking wild, playing a piano, and plotting a murder like in reefer madness

Thank you

Low hanging fruit.

MJ is the low hanging fruit.  It pads their stats and gets them federal aid.  Why would any hitter want a pitcher with a 9.00 era OUT OF THE GAME. Plus pimply faced Johnny isn't exactly like bucking with Drug gangs.  They know the truth but it's not convenient for them to accept it.

Dems and Reps, different pages from the same bad book!


That's good that we can take the home loans and that opens completely new chances.

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