Columbia Missouri Police Chief Favors Alternatives To Marijuana Prohibition

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 21, 2010

    From Missouri NORML:

    Missouri NORML’s and local attorney Dan Viets spoke with Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton yesterday about the need to reform cannabis laws in Missouri and to stop violent home raids (Columbia is where two dogs were recently shot in a marijuana raid that was captured on video, causing great public revulsion and concern nationwide–not only in Missouri).

    In the past Chief Burton has alluded to the need for alternative policies to straight out prohibition. The exchange yesterday between Viets and Burton–where Chief Burton acknowledges the importance of NORML’s advocacy work–was recorded and transcribed below .

    Columbia Police Chief Kenneth Burton Quote:
    “If I had a chance to catch someone breaking into a warehouse and someone with marijuana (Dan and Chief crosstalk) I applaud your effort, I mean, if we could get out of the business I am sure there would be a lot of officers happy to do that.

    Unfortunately, it is still a matter of law. The shooting that happened right after, …  this came to the forefront was over marijuana. And crimes of violence do occur b/c of marijuana.

    You may make the argument that it is because it is illegal, and hey, you may be right.

    I don’t have anything against it except it is against the law.

    And as a police officer I have sworn to uphold the law. So prioritizing, when we can, you are absolutely right. We should concentrate on meth or something more serious, but we come across marijuana it is still against the law.

    I am with you on the fight, and I hope you are successful at some point and we will see how that goes.”

    Thanks to MO NORML and Chief Burton!

    Also, more good news from MO: Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis, who announced yesterday that another member of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is working on a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, and Slay seems to like the idea!

    He’s currently doing a poll on legalization, and reformers are winning big time!

    Please make sure you’re working with your local chapter of NORML in MO or nationwide to reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws.

    47 responses to “Columbia Missouri Police Chief Favors Alternatives To Marijuana Prohibition”

    1. ckdk30 says:

      I put my 2 cents in on the ( poll on legalization) link. Seems like we may be getting somewhere finally

    2. rh52056 says:

      I applaud Mr. Burton for understanding the absurdity of the law. I also understand his position of upholding the law, it is his duty and he doesn’t get to pick and choose which laws he wants to enforce. If there were more police officers and members of the government who supported the reform of the law it would happen much quicker. We need support on both sides to achieve the common goal of safe and prosperous communities.

    3. kentk2001 says:

      this officer should be commended but as for the rest of the officers a quote a wise man told me
      (it is hard for a person to understand somthing when their paycheck is tied to them not understanding it )
      ie the war on drugs
      I have been on the reciving end of a swat team and I see the officer that had me on the ground with an assult rifel pointed at my head every so often
      he wares a tee shirt with a swat officer in full riot gear with a battering ram and the shirt says
      KNOCK KNOCK!!!
      with these kind of people it’s a wonder we don’t have more shootings

    4. CATHERINE H says:

      If the Police think MM causes violence… that’s a damn lie. Alcohol is the cause of most of their issues.
      It is also a good lame excuse for them to prove innocence in this shooting.
      Now tell me when will this end……… MM does not cause problems and that WILL affect the prisons and the $$$$$ is what it’s about. As you see a life ain’t worth a thing.
      Human Rights when will anyone hold the US accountable for this type of b.s. It’s just okay. I don’t think so.

    5. Stacey Thomson says:

      Good for you Mr. Burton, I agree with you. I am a high school teacher and I see the negative effects of the criminalization of marijuana. If it were legal, like alcohol or tobacco, we could control it to a greater degree and keep it out of the hands of young kids. The legalization would cut way down on street crime that has to do with dealing. Also, we could tax it and pay for National Healthcare. I am sorry about the dogs, I do know some police that are on the drug team and I know it is the first thing they do and they also feel bad that they have to do that. If more people that were older and held responsible jobs like you and I were more honest and accepting about marijuana, we could change the laws. We could reduce crime, reduce the prison population that costs us all too much money, and increase money that could go to health care. Thank you for your courage and support. You are a brave and smart man.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Ken Burton for congress. Write it in.

    7. Cliff says:

      not sure if yall 2 saw the video or read the story, but, the dogs were shot while there was a child in the house. the cops DID NOT do surveillance on the house although there was a 8 day period from the time the search warrant was signed by a judge, until the time the door was kicked in all to find a pipe w/ residue. all because there was a snitch that said the people were selling drugs. a pipe tho? 1 dead dog? multiple gun shots w/ a kid in the house? come on now no one can sit back and say thats right even tho the police chief said some thing that sounded good, that isnt going to fix the kid from having issues from being put thru that bs. the cops are there to “serve & protect”, not go around fucking w/ people that work a 9 to 5 to put a roof over their families heads and food on the table. ok the guy smokes? and? the money and man power used for that “bust” could have been used to do something productive. possibly something that hurts people.. lets say.. ICE?!?! wtf let the people smoke their to relax after a long day as the drinkers go drink at a bar then DRIVE home w/ alcohol running thru their veins!

    8. John says:

      Ken Burton is a piece of shit who defended the actions of his swat team in the home raid where they killed a family pet. Now…after the heat is put on him over this raid…..he is speaking out in favor of reform….what a hippocrite

    9. Karen Williams says:

      My opinion is that we should not just concede to legalizing medical cannabis. Cannabis should be completely decriminalized. The only reason it is a “gateway” drug is because it is not available legally to all. And up to this point, it is the only known treatment for PTSD that can actually decrease the amount and extent of violent rages.

      I am close friends with many law enforcement officers (some are life long friends) from 3 different states and they are of the same opinion as Chief Burton. I applaud his courage to stand up and be counted in this anti-prohibition movement. I am fairly sure that his caseload would decrease dramatically were cannabis decriminalized.

    10. rick says:

      i also applaud Mr.Burton,he was not the typical redneck cop who actually takes pride in putting smokers away. we need more cops to have his attitude ,not the hardcore gi joe cops