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Who’s Getting Rich Off Prohibition? Just Look Who Opposes Prop. 5

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 30, 2008

    You can learn a lot about the merits of a proposal by taking a good, hard look at who’s lobbying against it.

    Take California’s Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, which would require the diversion of certain non-violent offenders to drug treatment and increase funding for state-sponsored rehabilitation programs. The measure seeks to expand upon the alternative sentencing programs initially enacted by Proposition 36, which is estimated to have saved taxpayers some $1.7 billion dollars and reduced the number of people incarcerated for simple drug possession by one-third. So who would oppose this proposal?

    If you guessed: the folks who make their living arresting non-violent drug offenders, you’d be right! According to the ‘No on 5′ website, the California State Sheriff’s Association, the California Narcotics Officers Association, the California Peace Officers Association, the Police Chiefs of California, and the California District Attorneys Association all oppose Prop. 5.

    However, even more disturbing is who’s bankrolling the ‘No on 5′ campaign. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, California’s powerful prison guards union has spent close to $2 million dollars to lobby against the passage of Prop. 5. After all, overcrowded prisons — In 2007, California declared a ‘state of emergency’ in the prison system because of the lack of bed space — and more prison construction (in lieu of building additional public high schools and state colleges) are a financial windfall for prison guards, even if they spell disaster for everyone else.

    In addition to expanding drug treatment in California, Prop. 5 would also reduce minor marijuana possession penalties from a misdemeanor (punishable by a $100 criminal fine with a criminal record) to a non-criminal infraction (punishable by a $100 civil fine with no criminal record). Now who would be against that?

    If you answered: the folks who make their living by possessing a monopoly on the sale of legal intoxicants, you’d be correct! According to the DPA, the California Beer and Beverage Distributors have donated $100,000 to the ‘No on 5′ campaign. Could it be that the alcohol lobby is fearful of the day when they will have to legally compete with a natural product that is remarkably safe, non-toxic, and won’t leave you with a hangover? Do we even have to ask?

    So now that you know who’s against Prop. 5, why not examine who is lobbying for it. That list would include the California Nurses Association, California Society of Addiction Medicine, the California League of Women Voters, and the California Academy of Family Physicians.

    In short, those who have dedicated their lives to helping others in need are backing Prop. 5, while those who have dedicated their careers to destroying people’s lives (or who promote a product that does) vehemently oppose it. You do the math.

    27 Responses to “Who’s Getting Rich Off Prohibition? Just Look Who Opposes Prop. 5”

    1. Logan says:

      Absolutely ludicrous. Not altogether surprising though.

    2. Excellent commentary on the vested interests opposing Prop. 5 by Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post. Read thee full essay at the link below.

      Posted October 30, 2008 | 08:27 PM (EST)

      The Battle Over CA Prop 5: Special Interests Overwhelming the Public Interest

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-battle-over-ca-prop-5_b_139474.html

      “Yet Prop 5 is struggling because of a very powerful special interest: the prison guards union. It has funneled $1.8 million into the campaign to derail Prop 5.

      For the guards, prison overcrowding means more overtime pay. So the state’s prison industrial complex has unleashed the full force of its financial power — funding an array of ads that blatantly mischaracterize Prop 5. Truth has gone out the window, replaced by overheated claims that the initiative is a “drug dealer’s bill of rights,” “a get out of jail free card” for meth dealers, and a law that will allow parents to abuse their kids and escape punishment.

      Goodbye reform, hello fear. The special interests are, once again, overwhelming the public interest.”

    3. Even more on the cozy relationship between the California prison lobby and state politicians. Check out the author’s back-and-forth with Jerry Brown at the link below.

      Jerry’s Brown-Nosin’ with California’s Prison Guards

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-abrahamson/jerrys-brown-nosin-with-c_b_139293.html

      “The California prison guards’ union — one of the state’s richest and most reviled special-interest groups — is funding a multi-million-dollar attack on Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act. The prison guards’ newest ally is Jerry Brown, attorney general and former governor of California.

      Prop. 5 is a modest and sensible reform of California’s corrections system that promises to reduce the state’s bloated prison population and, in the process, cut state spending by billions of dollars. The measure is supported by a wide-range of treatment professionals, good-government types and former high-ranking corrections and law enforcement officials.

      The prison guards, however, oppose Prop. 5. They don’t like the math. Fewer prisoners will mean fewer jobs and less overtime pay for prison guards.”

    4. Not surprising, but a great reminder that we need to continue educating others about how the average American loses in the war on drugs. We can change the drug laws, and we will! Whenever i get the chance I talk about how drug prohibition has had so many negative consequences and why we need drug law reform. Most people have never even thought about the war on drugs and its implications. When they get the information, though, many will see why it’s such a horrible policy that we should discontinue.

      -David Carlson
      http://www.davidcarlsonpolitics.com

    5. z says:

      Wait a minute now, wouldn’t doctors,nurses, and addiction specialists benefit from more people in state paid drug treatment programs?

    6. Watch Zeitgeist the Movie says:

      Yep law enforcement is a Biseness Cops,prison guards,probation officers are the laziest people on earth.
      The only thing they care about is getting payed to push people around they don’t give the slightest fuck what you’ve done. Potheads make great prisoners/slaves as they are non violent there is little risk to the cowardly cops who arrest them, once in prison they are much easier to manage than real criminal who might assault the lazy cowards employed as guards.
      Honestly the guards would rather the violent offenders were released as would make their life’s easier.

    7. John316 says:

      I have been preaching the same thing just follow the money and you will find our why we still go to jail in record number. It is a sad record of where we are as a country..

    8. Libertarian Mac says:

      Hey Paul you realize calling them “prison guards” is an insult to them. They wish to be adressed as “correctional officers.” I’m still trying to figure out what it is that they correct.

      Hmm, let me get this right. I get a cushy gov job, benefits, retirement and all I have to do is babysit some guys/gals that aren’t violent in the first place.
      HELL sign me up!

    9. D says:

      Z – good point, I didn’t see it that way until you said it… that aside, the nurses and doctors aren’t fucking up people’s lives.

    10. Paul says:

      z Says:

      “Wait a minute now, wouldn’t doctors, nurses, and addiction specialists benefit from more people in state paid drug treatment programs?”

      That’s right z… Drs and nurses will benefit from prop 5. Also there will be more jobs created for them and drug abuse treatment specialists as well. This is actually a very good thing compared to law enforcement, prison guards and politicians that support them receiving those increases if prop 5 fails. “Why” you say? Because the latter group does very little if anything to improve the lives of non-violent drug law offenders and their future benefit to society while the programs and professionals mentioned in the first group are actually intent on doing just that.

      The question is; who do you want to support? The people who save lives and families of non-violent drug users or the people who are focused on arresting (leaving them with a criminal record) or arresting and incarcerating (where most learn how to be a criminal) then sending them back into society with little chance to overcome their criminal record and the stigma that’s attached (in many cases forcing them to put the criminal teachings they learned in prison to use out of desperation for survival).

      Oh, by the way prop 5 will also save about 2.5 BILLION in taxpayer funds while.

      Let’s be real! The War on (some) Drugs has failed! Drug Warriors need to pull themselves out of denial and accept it! It’s time for smarter drug policies focused on health rather then treating non-violent drug users or abusers as criminals, arresting or locking them up, condemning them to deal with negative lifelong effects!

    11. You’d think just stepping forward to voice your opinion AGAINST this would single you out as an asshole for voicing an opinion against it and highlighting how much of an asshole maneuver it is to be against such a great proposal as this, but it’s an entirely different story when the almighty dollar is involved.

    12. They are wasting their money. The majority of Americans feel our marijuana laws are outdated and need changed.

      It is only a matter of time…

    13. lee says:

      Of course I’m voting YES. But stop using the term Prohibition. Though accurate the term brings up Prohibtion(1919-1933). During Prohibition users were never incarcerated or punished. The Volstead act prohibitied the manufacture or importation of alcohol but not possesion or use(it could be seized and destroyed of course.)

    14. Watch Zeitgeist the Movie says:

      I like the term Prohibition because it’s so accurate. What we have to refuse to do is use the term drug to describe cannabis it is a herb drugs are cocaine meth,stuff at Rite Aid.

    15. Urbs says:

      This is absolutely true. I happened to work maintenance on my city’s court house and jail and I was told numerous times that without crime none of us would of had jobs. Unfortunately, marihuana possesion is the most common form of criminal actions in the U.S. so obviously people involved in law enforcement are going to spill out taxpayer money to try and stop the promotion of the main thing that provides them with funds to use at their own will. When it comes to the alcohol industry, and their efforts to keep alcohol the only legal substance in this country, we all must understand the effects of alcohol compared to weed. I will assume that whoever is reading this has experimented with both substances. If you can honestly say that weed effects the mind worse than alcohol, then step up and admit ur stupidity, because that is what you are, stupid, and probally drunk as well. I could go on for hours about alcohol and its role on society, but all I ever have to do to win this argument is look at how many people die each year due to alcohol related incidents and how many acts of crime are contributed to the person being under the influence of alcohol. The numbers do not compare, alcohol is by far the more harzardous substance, but yet it has become sociallbly acceptable while pot and it numerous benefits have become the scorn of law enforcement.

    16. z says:

      Paul, I’m just saying this proposal substitutes the financial interests of one group with those of another. The treatment programs for marijuana users are still a complete waste of taxpayer money as 99.9% of the users do NOT need treatment, they just need to be left alone by the state.

    17. bob searcy says:

      the 08 vote to me was a question of religious government vs. secular govt. the Greedy Old People will never justify torture to me. a dispicable bunch..

    18. When I became a chronic pain patient I took the time and money to jump through all the hoops to become a legal Medical Cannabis Patient. I voted yes on 5 in order for the unfortunate citizens who do not have an excuse to be treated to mercy instead of jail. Perhaps now with a new administration arriving we can start hoping for better from this government.

    19. Anonymous says:

      why not address the lawyers who charge thousands of dollars for every marihuana arrest to the tune of billions each year? this is profit motive to lobby against legalization.

    20. klarz says:

      Ya know,,I remember years ago when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,Had won a mr.universe or somthing like that ,,and he was on the old Mike Douglas show.When mike asked him what he did on his time off to relax ,He said that he might have a drink ,and smoke a joint,,can anyone find this footage? This would have been in the mid 70s

    21. CD1 says:

      The key word here (and all other issues regarding marijuana decriminalization) is “MONEY”. The anti-drug forces have powerful unions and political action commitees that provide a constant inflow of cash to promote their agenda. Unfortunately, the pro-legalization has only a limited amount of money to promote common sense policies.

      Ken Stroup has often said that marijuana users are the only demographic that actually want to be taxed. This is probably not that realistic, even if pot was legalized, because it is so easy to grow (Another reason why drug companies fight it so hard; they know they can not profit from it.)

      My solution: Everyone that uses marijuana should impose a tax on themselves. Each time you use or buy marijuana, set aside a dollar or two to donate to NORML or other organization for the reform of marijuana laws. Maybe donate some time or money to support a political candidate or action group that supports marijuana decriminalization.

      “Tip” O’Neil once said the money is the mother’s milk of politics. Perhaps if enough donations are made, the politicians will start seeing things our way.

      Just My Humble Opinion.

    22. tony is awsome says:

      fuck the police coming straight from the underground.
      but, seriously how long do we have to wait until we try some of these “drug war heros” for war crimes? how long till we say who care what you can and can’t tax? how long till we take our country back from these backward violent jesus freaks (no offense non-violent jesus freaks)? i love my country but i hate my government.

    23. Jolly says:

      Whats up with Feinstein? I thought that freak of nature was a liberal?

    24. 4204ever says:

      It’s true yes on prop 5 would mean a drop in imprisonment for non violent marijuana so called offenders? And would mean a few less jobs posibley but if the prison and probation system really wanted to help people they would see a lesser work load would free up their time to focus on people with real issues I pray for the day marijuana is leagle for I have expirenced the theraputic use of marijuana and prohibition is a a major injustice in modern society but back to the topic unfortunatly it seems our government is based on greed and looking out for número UNO hopfuly one day man can once again learn the meaning of compassion

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    26. […] Flop Ahnuld is on whatever side the money is. Prison Industrial Complex Attacks Prop. 5 Who?s Getting Rich Off Prohibition? Just Look Who Opposes Prop. 5 October 30th, 2008 By: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director You […]

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