WASHINGTON, DC – This morning a former narcotics cop delivered a letter signed by 73 current and former police officers, judges, prosecutors and federal agents to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him not to interfere with the wishes of the voters of Colorado and Washington State to legalize and regulate marijuana.
“We seem to be at a turning point in how our society deals with marijuana,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the group that authored the letter. “The war on marijuana has funded the expansion of drug cartels, it has destroyed community-police relations and it has fostered teenage use by creating an unregulated market where anyone has easy access. Prohibition has failed. Pretty much everyone knows it, especially those of us who dedicated our lives to enforcing it. The election results show that the people are ready to try something different. The opportunity clearly exists for President Obama and Attorney General Holder to do the right thing and respect the will of the voters.”
The text of the letter:
November 20, 2012
The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Mr. Attorney General and Our Colleagues in the Department of Justice,
As fellow law enforcement and criminal justice professionals we respectfully call upon you to respect and abide by the democratically enacted laws to regulate marijuana in Colorado and Washington. This is not a challenge to you, but an invitation – an invitation to help return our profession to the principles that made us enter law enforcement in the first place.
We went into law enforcement, despite its long hours and constant frustrations, because we wanted to serve our communities. We wanted to save people, to protect them, and there are few more selfless and noble callings on this earth.
But the second we overthrow the will of the people, we fail to live up to the promise of that calling.
The great American political writings upon which this country was founded were based in John Locke’s concept of the social contract, which recognizes that the authority of police, and of all government, is derived from the people.
And the people have spoken. To disregard the fact is to undermine the legitimacy of the ideas for which our forefathers fought and died.
This is not merely an academic argument. August Vollmer, father of professional policing and primary author of the Wickersham Commission report that served to bring an end to the prohibition of alcohol, opposed the enforcement of drug laws, saying that they “engender disrespect both for law and for the agents of law enforcement.” His words ring as true today as they did in 1929. After 40 years of the drug war, people no longer look upon law enforcement as heroes but as people to be feared. This is particularly true in poor neighborhoods and in those of people of color, and it impacts our ability to fight real crime.
One day the decision you are about to make about whether or not to respect the people’s will may well come to be the one for which you are known. The war on marijuana has contributed to tens of thousands of deaths both here and south of the border, it has empowered and expanded criminal networks and it has destroyed the mutual feeling of respect once enjoyed between citizens and police. It has not, however, reduced the supply or the demand of the drug and has only served to further alienate – through arrest and imprisonment – those who consume it.
At every crucial moment in history, there comes a time when those who derive their power from the public trust forge a new path by disavowing their expected function in the name of the greater good. This is your moment. As fellow officers who have seen the destruction the war on marijuana has wrought on our communities, on our police forces, on our lives, we hope that you will join us in seeking a better world.
Executive Director Stanford “Neill” Franklin, Baltimore, MD
Retired State Police Major (34 years law enforcement experience)