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Cops: “We Don’t Make the Laws, We Just Ignore Them”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 6, 2008

    For the third consecutive year, pot arrests are up in the city of Denver. Why is this news? It’s news because Denver voters have twice since 2005 passed municipal initiatives ordering the cops to stop making minor pot busts. Yet, as the New York Times reports, local cops have chosen to do just the opposite — with the city’s assistant attorney bragging, “There has not been a policy change.”

    Working in marijuana law reform, we typically hear cops say that they don’t ‘make the marijuana laws, they just enforce them.’ That sentiment may sound reasonable, but let me be the first to tell you that it’s utter horsecrap.Law enforcement lobbies vigorously to maintain marijuana prohibition. And when their lobby efforts fail they simply choose to ignore the law altogether.

    Still not convinced? Check out this story from Idaho, where the state Attorney General rushed to ‘invalidate’ a pair of local initiatives that called on police to cease arresting adults who possessed small amounts of pot.

    Or better yet, check out law enforcement’s reaction to the passage of a recent Texas state law that recommends cops issue citations in lieu of arresting minor pot offenders. As noted by Midland County Texas Sheriff Gary Painter, law or no law, pot offenders in his county “will be placed in jail,” and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it.

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