A good day today for Prop 19. The money bomb is getting close to $50,000, and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition has been around the state making important points.
Joseph McNamara, who headed the San Jose Police Department for 15 years, called the ballot measure a potential â€œgame-changerâ€ that would allow police agencies to devote more resources to fighting other crimes and undercut criminal syndicates that are largely funded by illegal marijuana sales.
â€œOpponents say we should do more of the same of what has not worked for more than a century,â€ McNamara said in phone call with reporters. â€œI think we should return some common sense to law enforcement by protecting people from crimes they are concerned about. People are not terrified by pot smokers.â€
Also in the Ventura Star:
[retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James] Gray called the campaign for Proposition 19, â€œProbably the most important election of my lifetime.â€
Gray was joined by former San Jose Police Chief Joseph McNamara in arguing that much of the money flowing to violent drug cartels comes from the illegal sale of marijuana.
Citing White House statistics, McNamara said 60% of cartel money stems from marijuana. Those who argue that a black market would remain arenâ€™t paying attention to history, McNamara said.
After the prohibition on alcohol was repealed, bootleggers disappeared, said McNamara, now a research fellow in drug policy at Stanford University.
And what about those other law enforcement groups?
Active law enforcement groups, including the California Police Chiefs Assn., are opposed to the measure, saying it would increase usage and promote crime. Gray, the retired judge, said he believes that many in law enforcement support legalization but are afraid to say so because of political pressure on the job.
â€œThey have a political job, so they canâ€™t tell the truth,” Gray said. â€œPeople are free to speak out honestly only after they are retired.â€
Supporters said keeping pot illegal props up drug cartels and overburdens the state’s court system. Stephen Downing, former deputy chief for the Los Angeles Police Department, said the nation’s drug policy has failed, likening it to cutting off the leg of a spider to cripple it.
“The drug organizations are more like starfish,” Downing said during a press conference at a West Hollywood park where children were playing with their parents behind him. “You cut a leg off, it regenerates. We are dealing with a sea of starfish. The only way you kill a starfish is to remove its nutrient. And that nutrient is money.”
Phil Smith at Drug War Chronicle has more on today’s press conferences: Cops Say Yes to California Marijuana Legalization Measure [FEATURE]