#452 Time for California to End the Unwinnable Marijuana War



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #452 – Sunday, September 11th, 2010

Kevin Zeese, the president of Common Sense for Drug Policy
www.csdp.org wrote the following for posting to various websites,
including ours.

The facts presented both in the article and the references may assist
you in writing letters in response to the many articles, both pro and
con, appearing in California newspapers.

Proposition 19 news clippings may be found at http://mapinc.org/find?272

To date only about a dozen letters on our side which mention
Proposition 19 have been published in California newspapers. In an
election that may be close your letters could influence enough voters
to make the difference.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed,
it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead



Can More Arrests Ever Stop Marijuana?

Since the founding of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1973, 15
million Americans have been arrested for marijuana.

That is more people than live in California’s 25 largest cities –
millions more than live in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Illinois.

The DEA has led an aggressive national law enforcement effort that
results in a marijuana arrest every 38 seconds, propelling the U.S.
to become the biggest incarcerator on the planet, housing one out of
four of the world’s prisoners. Despite mass arrests, incarceration
and the tearing apart of millions of families, the war rages on with
no end in sight.

Since the DEA’s founding, approximately 90% of youth have described
marijuana as easy to get in annual federal surveys. It is easier for
young Americans to buy marijuana than it is to buy alcohol or
prescription drugs which are legally regulated and controlled.

Is there any reason to think that millions more arrests – with costs
running into the billions – will win the marijuana war?

Last week every former U.S. DEA head came out against Proposition 19
which would end possession arrests and allow local jurisdictions in
California to make marijuana legal. No surprise that drug enforcement
bureaucrats want to defend their marijuana enforcement budgets. They
even oppose medical marijuana for people suffering and dying. But,
more important for the voter, this is an opportunity to look at the
big picture. Voters should ask themselves:

Has the marijuana war, with more than 800,000 arrests each year, worked?

Will more arrests stop marijuana?

If not, isn’t it time to consider alternatives that could better
control marijuana?

Thankfully, the DEA is not the only law enforcement voice. Recently
the National Black Police Association came out in support of Prop.
19, following a slew of endorsements from unions, faith leaders and
the NAACP. On Monday, simultaneous press conferences will be held at
Oakland City Hall and in West Hollywood Park to announce a letter of
endorsement signed by dozens of law enforcers across California.

Joseph McNamara, former police chief in San Jose, CA and Kansas City,
MO, an active member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition,
describes the marijuana laws as much worse than ineffective: “they
waste valuable police resources and also create a lucrative black
market that funds cartels and criminal gangs with billions of
tax-free dollars.” Federal researchers find marijuana to be safer
than many legal drugs, so why waste precious law enforcement resources on it?

These officers, judges and prosecutors support Proposition 19 because it:

. Stops wasting police on non-violent marijuana offenders and enables
them to focus on preventing violent crime,

. Cuts off funding to violent gangs and drug cartels,

. Reduces marijuana access to children by instituting strict
age-limits and public safety controls, Protects the lives of police
officers now at risk in the “drug war,” and

. Restores mutual respect and good relations between law enforcement
and communities bearing the brunt of the current marijuana laws.

These police views are shared by the California Legislative Analyst
which says Prop 19 would enable California to put our police
priorities where they belong saying it “could result in savings to
the state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana
offenders incarcerated in state prisons and county jails, as well as
the number placed under county probation or state parole supervision.
These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars
annually. The county jail savings would be offset to the extent that
jail beds no longer needed for marijuana offenders were used for
other criminals who are now being released early because of a lack of
jail space.”

Proposition 19 is a cautious reform that keeps in mind public safety.
It empowers local jurisdictions to decide whether to bring adult use
of marijuana within the law and how to regulate it. It maintains
strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence, increases
the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibits
consumption in public, forbids smoking while minors are present, and
bans possession on school grounds.

In addition to being good policy that sets common sense police
priorities and regulates marijuana so it is more difficult for
children to get, it will generate $1.4 billion in tax revenue each
year according to California’s tax collector, the Board of Equalization.

California voters should thank the federal drug enforcement
bureaucrats for showing that – despite their best efforts over nearly
four decades – the marijuana war cannot be won and it is time for
voters to do what politicians refuse to do: tax and control marijuana.















Suggestions for writing letters are at our Media Activism Center

For the latest facts about marijuana please see


Prepared by: Richard Lake, Focus Alert Specialist www.mapinc.org


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