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June 28, 2013

"Five Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new article from Rolling Stone.  Here are excerpts from the start of the piece and the article's list of reasons:

Most people don't think "cops" when they think about who supports marijuana legalization. Police are, after all, the ones cuffing stoners, and law enforcement groups have a long history of lobbying against marijuana policy reform.  Many see this as a major factor in preventing the federal government from recognizing that a historic majority of Americans — 52 percent — favors legalizing weed.

But the landscape is changing fast.  Today, a growing number of cops are part of America's "marijuana majority."  Members of the non-profit group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) say that loosening our pot policy wouldn't necessarily condone drug use, but control it, while helping cops to achieve their ultimate goal of increasing public safety. Here are the five biggest reasons why even cops are starting to say, "Legalize It!"

1. It's about public safety....

2. Cops want to focus on crimes that hurt real victims....

3. Cops want strong relationships with the communities they serve....

4. The war on pot encourages bad — and even illegal — police practices....

5. Cops want to stop kids from abusing drugs....

June 28, 2013 at 04:07 PM | Permalink


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With 52% of adult Americans polled now saying that they favor legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, the handwriting is on the wall. The cash-starved states are drooling over the billions of dollars in potential new tax revenues. It's only a matter of a few years until Congress catches up with the governed and decriminalizes marijuana too. Several states have already legalized medical marijuana and 3 states have legalized (recreational) marijuana for all adults older than 21. Almost everyone agrees that alcohol causes far more serious societal (and related criminal) problems than marijuana does, but alcohol is legal and marijuana isn't. Think of the billions of dollars of cost savings for the criminal justice and prison systems. It reputedly costs $13 billion a year to keep marijuana illegal and to incarcerate those convicted of marijuana crimes. 45% of all criminal drug arrests in America (about 850,000 per year) are for marijuana. Change seems inevitable at this point. And law enforcement wants to spend their time fighting more serious (violent and narcotics) crimes anyway.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Jun 28, 2013 5:12:05 PM

I love it when Rolling Stone, no less, tells us what the cops want. This is like asking Mitt Romney what Code Pink wants.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 28, 2013 5:25:07 PM

Did you read the article, Bill? Cops are quoted extensively throughout. So it's more like asking Mitt Romney what the Republican party wants. Not every Republican will agree with him, but he at least has, or had, the backing of the party.

Posted by: vachesacree | Jun 28, 2013 6:58:18 PM

vachesacree --

So you're telling me that a majority of cops want dope legalized? Yeah, right.

The article doesn't even purport to say, much less prove, any such thing. A minority of cops favor legalization, just as a minority of defense lawyers favor the death penalty. What that proves is nothing more than that in any large number of people there will be minority viewpoints. Am I supposed to be impressed?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 28, 2013 7:09:03 PM

Bill, I've noticed that very little impresses you that runs counter to anything you believe.

Posted by: observer12 | Jun 28, 2013 8:45:36 PM

observer 12 --

"Bill, I've noticed that very little impresses you that runs counter to anything you believe."

That's because I think about what I believe before believing it.

BTW, are you maintaining that anything like a majority of cops want pot legalized? I suspect you know that's absurd, but I wanted to check.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 28, 2013 10:40:00 PM

The article says "cops are starting to say."

I have it on [no] authority that some cops even read the "Rolling Stone."

Seriously, this is pot we are talking about. It is not really strange if many police officers are worrying about other things. As has been noted before, legalization does not even necessarily stop them from making most of their marijuana arrests. Those under 21 or those who smoke in public places are not covered by the marijuana legalization laws just passed.

The laws would put in place regulations. So, personal possession intended for sale in violation of them (such as some college kid who has a little pot business on the side) often would still be illegal. It is akin to cigs being legal but not illegal tax-free cig sales. The remaining illegal usage is not something many police will care about. For instance, many would not care about the health effects, them seeing many unhealthy things in their work much worse than marijuana usage. The reasons offerred also have merit.

If we don't like the source, they were suggested in other places.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 29, 2013 12:07:08 PM

I'm sorry, Bill, can you show me where in my post I said "a majority of cops want dope legalized"? I didn't say that, and neither did the article. The article quoted certain cops and ex-cops. So you're saying those cops are lying? They don't actually favor legalization?

Your position was that Rolling Stone was telling us what cops want. I was simply pointing out that cops were telling us their views. What is so complicated about that?

Posted by: vachesacree | Jun 29, 2013 1:52:05 PM

sign a petition to vote on legalizing marijuana


Posted by: justin | Jul 15, 2013 1:17:48 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB