Who’s Behind Pot Prohibition? The Answer Is Obvious

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director October 9, 2009

    Without a doubt the question I’m most often asked professionally is this: “Why is marijuana still illegal?”

    The common inference behind this question is that there must be some behind the scenes cabal of Big Pharma, Tobacco, and Alcohol executives conspiring to keep cannabis illegal. By contrast, the real culprits behind pot prohibition are far more overt.

    Law enforcement organizations — including cops, district attorneys, prosecutors, prison guard unions, sheriffs, and narcotics officers associations — remain the primary force working against sensible marijuana law reform.

    Case in point? Look no further than these two egregious examples:

    Los Angeles County D.A. prepares to crack down on pot outlets
    via the Los Angeles Times

    Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Thursday he will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales, targeting a practice that has become commonplace under an initiative approved by California voters more than a decade ago.

    “The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory,” he said. “The time is right to deal with this problem.”

    Cooley and Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich recently concluded that state law bars sales of medical marijuana, an opinion that could spark a renewed effort by law enforcement across the state to rein in the use of marijuana. It comes as polls show a majority of state voters back legalization of marijuana, and supporters are working to place the issue on the ballot next year.

    Even prior to the passage of California’s passage of Prop. 215, cannabis dispensaries — the same sort of dispensaries that D.A. Cooley now unilaterally defines as a “problem” — operated openly, and without incident, in L.A. County. Today, over 1,000 such operations exist in Los Angeles. District Attorney Cooley has now arbitrarily declared that “100%” of these dispensaries are acting illegally based not on a court decision, but rather on his own personal anti-pot bias.

    Do a majority of public of L.A. county share D.A. Cooley’s view that open market, regulated medi-pot transactions are, in fact, a “problem?” Not at all. Does the will of the voters actually matter to their District Attorney? Not at all.

    According to a separate story from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, D.A. Cooley “was one of dozens of guests at a recent conference … in which the topic was the ‘eradication of medical-marijuana dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County,’ according to a flier advertising the event hosted by the California Narcotics Officers’ Association.”

    This, of course, would be the same California Narcotics Officers Association that just last month issued the white paper: “California Police Chiefs Association Position Paper on the Decriminalization of Marijuana.” You can read the entire position paper here (Have a potent anti-emetic handy!), but here’s some excerpts.

    “Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, was passed by California voters in 1996 on a ballot initiative promoted by those who subscribe to the idea that all drug use should be legalized.”

    “It has become clear, despite the claims of use by critically ill people that only about 2% of those using crude Marijuana for medicine are critically ill. [Editor’s note: Predictably, no statements, including this bogus percentage, are actually cited with any supporting documentation.] The vast majority of those using crude Marijuana as medicine are young and are using the substance to be under the influence of THC and have no critical medical condition. … Marijuana is being abused by people who have no serous medical condition and simply like to be intoxicated on Marijuana.

    “Marijuana as a smoked product has never proven to be medically beneficial and, in fact, is much more likely to harm one’s health.”

    “The thought of decriminalizing Marijuana or allowing taxation of Marijuana is bewildering. The thought that a group of individuals would want to advocate for decriminalization of a substance that the state of California has deemed to be carcinogenic is alarming. [Editor’s note: Alcoholic beverages and aspirin — along with over 300 other substances — are also included on California’s Prop. 65 list of official carcinogens. I suppose the CNOA would argue that these substances ought to be illegal as well.]

    “The use of intoxicating and addictive substances fuels crime and destroys lives by creating addiction and dependency. Children are victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of parents or caretakers who live in addiction. Young adults are particularly vulnerable to addiction. Relaxed attitudes toward drug use place them at greater risk of addiction. Clearly legalization of Marijuana will lead to great use by those who would not use if it were not legal. [Editor’s note: Virtually every study on this subject finds just the opposite outcome. You can read summaries from a couple dozen or so here, here, and here.] This increased use will lead to negative outcomes.”

    “Much as we see in the use of other controlled substances,
    people who become addicted to Marijuana and cannot afford to maintain their addiction will turn to crime in order to supply themselves with their drug of choice.”

    “Marijuana is not and never will be good for the success, education, and well-being of our society. When a person examines the two known abused drugs in our society, alcohol and tobacco, from a Public Health standpoint, those two substances would be recommended today to be banned. [Editor’s note: And apparently the CNOA would be in full support of such a ban.] The California Police Chiefs Association clearly understands that this will not occur. But, the discussion of Marijuana is important especially in light of the money being infused by the Drug Alliance [Editor’s note: Who are they?] and their ability to prey on unsuspecting compassionate people of our great state.”

    Who is really behind marijuana prohibition. The answer should be obvious.

    136 responses to “Who’s Behind Pot Prohibition? The Answer Is Obvious”

    1. truthandconsequences says:

      This is the problem with most cops. They became police officers because they have a basic need to impose their will upon others, by the use of force if necessary. They cannot stand the idea that people have a right to decide for themselves how to live. They have appointed themselves as the arbiter of everybody else’s morals and lifestyles. This is why cannabis remains illegal. Remember, the constitution and bill of rights came into being to protect the people from the government. This is an issue of basic individual liberty, and nothing less.

    2. izit420 says:

      Isn’t it sad that the violent and overbearing side of this argument call it a War On Drugs.

    3. J. Johansen says:

      I highly doubt cops, amongst other law enforcement officials, are the main reason marijuana isn’t legal. I am a cop, and have been for eight years. I have yet to cite anyone or arrest them for marijuana related offenses. I believe pot should be legal in all 50 States. I think the crime rate would decrease if it were. Please, just because you had a bad experience with a law enforcement officer, don’t think that all cops are the same.

      [Paul Armentano responds: While you may personally hold progressive views (and I thank you for that stance), the establishment that represent you and lobby on crime-related legislation almost universally do not. This is not based on my experience with an individual cop, but based on my decade-plus experience as a lobbyist for this issue. LEOs are the chief lobbyists against drug law reform legislation — in every state, on every bill, whether it be decrim, hemp, medical marijuana, etc. In Massachusetts last year every single D.A. in the state publicly opposed Question 2, as did local law enforcement. this was not an exception — it is, unfortunately, the rule.]

    4. Joshua Duncan says:

      Ignorance will never be tolorated! Listen to Peter Tosh!

    5. Stu says:

      these cops are just afraid of losing their meal ticket. there is big money and big corruption to be had in the anti-drug business. cops bust a dealer with 10 kilos of weed. snatch 1 and lock up 9 as evidence. that’s a pretty quick few thousand dollars. unless of course there’s no corruption in law enforcement.. ya right.

    6. Chris C says:

      This is like a broken record. Despite the overwhelming evidence that debunks almost ALL of the claims made by prohibitionists, the same garbage is continually regurgitated.

      I love the comment about how “those addicted to marijuana who can not afford their addiction will turn to crime” A laughable statement to those who actually know anything about anything about marijuana.

      The fact is that more crime comes from forcing the product underground than from the drug itself. People don’t rob other people for marijuana, they rob other people for money, anything with demand and no legal supply venue is basically money on the street.

      Keep on fighting, we can tear this wall down if we keep on pushing.

    7. Marcus says:

      The people behind marijuana prohibition are being paid by us… the American tax payer. These people have the right to uphold laws passed by our ways of doing so (through ballot, Congress, etc.). They however do not become automatically “experts” when it comes to law making because their job is to uphold laws.

      This is why it makes me sick to read opinions of “Police Officer” “Sheriff” when it comes to people and marijuana. Of course they are going to be against legalizing or even decriminalizing marijuana.

      1. They lose the arrests that minor users and growers of marijuana create.

      2. They lose the ability to claim property of people growing marijuana (trucks, guns, property, etc).

      3. They have to go into fighting hard drug use (cocaine, heroin, meth, PCP, etc.) They is hard because there are so few people that use these drugs when you compare it to marijuana and alcohol.

      4. It is a lot easier arresting people for smoking dope than it is for arresting people drinking or high on cocaine. Face it, “potheads” just don’t think it is worth fighting a law enforcement officer over.

      5. Trust me, LE officers will not give up this fight until they have exhausted every second and dime they have. This is a huge cash cow for them and their friends (lawyers and prosecutors).

      ***Remember in NJ where the police officer had sex with a calf’s mouth and video taped it… while in trial the same judge didn’t punish the officer for bestiality… but punished a man for speaking out for marijuana legalization so that the NJ’s “WEEDMAN” couldn’t see his daughter!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

      ***I’m sick of Law Enforcement Organizations lobbying and keeping this prohibition of marijuana going on. LEAP has made strides, but nothing huge. We need the national media to take a look at the main pillar of marijuana prohibition (LE Orgs.).

    8. G says:

      f-ing police scum…Go do something productive. Stay out of people’s business. Your the real bad guys.

      I’m not saying all police are like this, but possibly the majority.

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    10. bongwater says:

      to hell with the current approach-this drug war will never end until the pigs that enforce it are afraid for their own and their families’ safety.all we have to do is bring the war home to them,after all, pigs are NOT people and neither are their families.when the drug war really affects them and is a danger to them- they will stop…pigs should fear reprisal from us when they say some shit like this in public…does the district atty. have a listed phone number???