THUNDER BAY – Crimebeat – “After spending many, many years trying in good faith to enforce these marijuana prohibition laws, I can report unequivocally that they just don’t work,” said Tony Ryan, a 36-year veteran Denver police lieutenant, now a board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “But it’s worse than that. Beyond just being ineffective, these laws waste important law enforcement resources that could instead be going to things that actually protect public safety, like solving and preventing murders, rapes and robberies.”
The debate, stateside over the decriminalization, or legalization of marijuana continues. In Colorado, a group of police officers, judges and prosecutors are expressing support for Amendment 64, the Colorado ballot measure to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
The group held a press conference on Thursday to release a letter of endorsement signed by law enforcers from across the state and to announce the endorsement of the national police organizations Blacks in Law Enforcement of America and the National Latino Officers Association.
The sign-on letter from the law enforcers can be read online at www.regulatemarijuana.org/law-enforcement
Ron Hampton, a former police officer who is executive director of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, which has endorsed Amendment 64, added, “Keeping these outdated prohibition laws on the books accomplishes nothing to reduce marijuana use, but it does cause incredible damage to our communities of color. Even though African Americans use marijuana at a rate virtually identical to that of whites, people from our community are arrested, sentenced and jailed at a much higher rate. Passing Amendment 64, while it won’t solve all our problems, is a great step toward ensuring equality for all under the law.”
Anthony Miranda of the National Latino Officers Association added, “Right now, communities of color see the police as aggressors rather than as protectors. People are unwilling to come to us, to give us information, even to report crimes, because they see us as the enemy. When Amendment 64 passes, we’ll be one step closer to rebuilding that community trust that allows us to effectively perform our jobs.”
In the sign-on letter released at the press conference, law enforcers outline their reasons for supporting Amendment 64, detailing how legalizing and regulating marijuana will:
* Put our police priorities where they belong, by ending the arrests of non-violent marijuana users and enabling police to focus instead on preventing violent crime;
* Cut off funding to violent gangs and drug cartels, who generate the majority of their revenue from illegal marijuana sales;
* Protect the lives of police officers now in the line of fire in the “drug war”;
* Reduce marijuana access to children by instituting strict age-limits and public safety controls;
* Restore mutual respect and good relations between law enforcement and communities bearing the brunt of the current marijuana laws.
Mr. Ryan, the former Denver police officer, added, “This November, Coloradans have the opportunity to take millions of dollars away from the gangs and cartels that currently control the illegal marijuana trade and put that money into our tax coffers, where it will be used to improve schools, pay police officers and protect our environment.”
These law enforcement leaders join other leaders who support Amendment 64, such as the Colorado/Montana/Wyoming NAACP Conference, the Colorado Democratic Party, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, college professors, doctors, Latino community leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, business leaders, elected officials and more.
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimates that marijuana taxes could generate $60 million in tax revenue and savings each year. Under the initiative, the first $40 million raised each year will be earmarked for school improvement, while the rest will be available to fund law enforcement, healthcare and other critical needs. (Source: www.cclponline.org)
Similar to current alcohol laws, Amendment 64 will give state and local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of marijuana to adults age 21 and older. The measure includes significant safeguards and controls: It maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana, allows employers to maintain their current employment policies and does not change existing medical marijuana laws.
Multiple polls reveal that Colorado voters support Amendment 64, including a Denver Post/Survey USA poll released this week showing the measure ahead 51-40.