Law Enforcement Against Prohibition


By Leo E. Laurence, J.D.

We are sooooo close to winning passage of Proposition 19, the initiative on the November ballot to regulate, tax, and control cannabis. As a former deputy sheriff, who also served in the D.A.’s office, I served as a speaker for the “RX Cannabis Raid Relief Fundraiser” on Aug. 14th, on behalf of L.E.A.P., Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which is headquartered in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. A consensus of several statewide polls shows that Prop. 19 has the support of about 50% of probable voters, with only 36% opposed, according to Rebecca Saltzman, deputy campaign director of the “Yes on 19” campaign in Oakland. However, 50% is insufficient for passage.

Passage of Prop. 19 will significantly help solve severe budget problems in both Sacramento and here in San Diego! Official estimates by the State of California say passage of Prop. 19 could generate $1.4 BILLION dollars in state and local revenue. Additionally, the state can save over $200 MILLION dollars – a conservative figure – on law enforcement costs now wasted on arrests, prosecution and prison costs of the failed War on Drugs. Prop. 19 will allow adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of cannabis. It allows local governments to set up a system to oversee the cultivation, distribution and sales in their communities. Even if a city doesn’t want to control and tax cannabis, buying and selling it will remain legal statewide.

Time to Hit Harder!
Recent statewide polls show that 52% of likely voters are supporting Prop. 19, including seniors who typically vote regularly. The county says the number of young people voting in local elections has significantly increased in recent years, suggesting a high possibility of success. Mobilize your life around this. Only two months left to campaign. By mid-October, with mail ballots, the election is over. I predict that we will see more federal, state, and local raids by law enforcement against growers and dispensaries because law enforcement is a macho, paramilitary profession and attack is the only remaining weapon it has against Prop. 19.

Drug Cartels Will Hurt
Mexican drug cartels get about 64% of their profits from marijuana sales and distribution, according to the White House. “Legalizing marijuana will strip cartels (of that money), which is the workhorse of their operations,” according to faculty experts at the University of San Diego. Since January of ‘07, over 22,700 civilian deaths have been associated with cartels, including journalists, embassy workers, police and children.

The Mexican government is considering legalizing drugs so they can be taxed and controlled; just as Prop. 19 will do. “Radical prohibition strategies have never worked,” said former Mexican President Vincente Fox, calling on México to legalize drugs, which he argues, “would hurt the cartels that have turned part of the country into battlegrounds,” reports Time Magazine.

Even our federal government has changed it’s marijuana policies, and the Department of Veteran Affairs is now allowing its ex-military patients to use medical marijuana.  Its doctors still cannot prescribe cannabis, but the department’s patients can use it in those states where it is legal, as in California.

The Basics
Unlike cigarettes and alcohol, marijuana is not physically addictive. Its use does not lead to heavier drugs.
In states where cannabis is currently legal, there is no evidence that legalizing will lead to increased consumption, according to the National Research Council.
Marijuana does not cause consumers to become violent or impair driving skills.
Cannabis does not have long-term toxic effects on the body, as does smoking tobacco.
Establishing controls over legal marijuana will put dangerous street dealers out of business.
Prop 19 passage will be a BIG blow to the drug cartels.

State officials currently estimate that marijuana is a $14 Billion dollar industry; illegal, untaxed and uncontrolled. Over 100 million people have at least tried marijuana. Passage of Prop. 19 could generate 1.4 Billion dollars in tax revenue for state and local governments each year, according to the state’s Board of Equalization.

It will also generate about $12 to $14 Billion from spin-off businesses, like coffeehouses, bookstores and tourism. The savings from the budgets of police, prosecution and prisons is about $200 million.

The U.S. has about 5% of the world’s population, but 26% of its prisoners. We arrest 1.8 million per year on drug-related charges. “No matter how you look at it, our policy against marijuana use has failed,” says Gary Johnson, a two-term former governor of New Mexico who openly supports legalization.

Leo Laurence, a San Diego resident, represents Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Mr. Laurence is a former deputy sheriff, who also served in the D.A.’s office where he went after the bad elements of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. He holds a law degree and completed a 4-year post-doctoral study in Appellate Law at the State Court of Appeal in San Diego. He served 5-years as a bombero, a Mexican firefighter, in Tijuana. He serves on the National Committee on Diversity of the Society of Professional Journalists, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the Latino Journalists of California.

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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