Arizona: Government Money Used To Oppose Marijuana Legalization

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director May 14, 2015

    It is hardly a secret to any long observing advocate for cannabis law reform to recognize early on in their efforts to end cannabis prohibition that if it were not for government–federal, state and local governments–spending, there would be relatively few examples of private money being employed in the last forty-five years to try to maintain the status quo of cannabis prohibition.

    The tens of billions spent annually to keep the Reefer Madness going in America largely is taxpayer-funded bureaucracies such as the so-called drug czar’s office, DEA, NIDA, SAMHSA, DARE, PDFAblahblahblah.

    Even in the face of this tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars annually, still, a majority of the US public rejects the policy of cannabis prohibition.

    Unbelievably, the drug czar’s office actually mandates that the office must use tax funding to publicly oppose cannabis legalization efforts–even though such is no longer a popularly supported public policy.

    Add one more prime example of cannabis prohibitionists in government not yielding to the will of voters, and worse, rather than pool their own private funding to advance their no-longer-popular-views, they want the taxpayers to pick up the bill of their anti-cannabis advocacy.

    Arizona voters approved a medical cannabis initiative in 2010. Many in the law enforcement community in the state, including prosecutors, have consistently opposed implementing the change of policies and/or still harass medical cannabis producers or patients.

    They’re sore losers.

    Now, consistent with large swaths of the country, Arizona voters are organizing once again in the state to place a full cannabis legalization initiative on the ballot for 2016.

    What is the reaction from some in the law enforcement community in Arizona to the prospects of citizens again instructing their workers what public policies they want them to enforce?

    Sure, law enforcement personnel are citizens too, and their opinions are as meaningful as any other citizens’, however, law enforcement personnel who oppose the public’s will on changes of public policy should never employ taxpayer funding to try to sway the populace or propagandize–on matters ranging from police wearing body cameras, to forfeiture reform to cannabis legalization.

    Well that is not at all happening currently in Yavapai County Arizona, where the local prosecutor Shelia Polk thinks it wise and prudent to steer forfeiture money derived from the criminal justice system (with most of the proceeds coming to law enforcement from currently illegal drug profits seized in previous criminal filings) to propagandize to voters that they should not vote to end cannabis prohibition in the state.

    Ever hear law enforcement roll out the tired ol’ line of “we don’t make the laws, we only enforce them?”

    It’s largely a lie (I mean…prevarication).

    Police and prosecutors (aided and abetted by fellow pot prohibitionists wearing white coats at NIDA, for example) regularly, using taxpayers’ money, actively seek to influence the outcome of public policy legislation, court cases and voter initiatives that seek to reform cannabis laws.

    It is pretty simple at this point in the now five-decade-old public effort to end cannabis prohibition, if police and prosecutors want to defend the status quo of a failed and unpopular public policy, then, if they really cared about the issue, they’d put their own skin in the game by organizing as private citizens.

    If prosecutors, cops, narcs, sheriffs and chiefs of police want to pony up their own money to try to stave off cannabis prohibition ending in their lifetimes–go for it.

    Reformers will more than match them dollar-for-dollar and are always spoiling for a good debate about wisdom for rationale continuing cannabis prohibition…and we’ve got the public on our side, they no longer do.

    What can not and should not happen anymore in the modern public policy debate about whether America should or should not continue another nearly eighty-years with cannabis prohibition enforcement are government officials and law enforcement personnel using their power of the purse and bully pulpit to try to persuade voters on ANY matters of public policy–let alone on policies where conflicts of interest are as obvious as prosecutors using government money to oppose the will of local voters who’re seeking to reform unpopular laws.

    Cannabis law reformers can and will win a fair fight on cannabis legalization, but, the impending political victory will be delayed if government officials are permitted to continue to use taxpayer funding to oppose the very will of the voters.

    Government for and by the people? Not when government officials are sore losers and want to use government funding to try to tip the scales of public opinion.

    When government stops spending taxpayer dollars to keep cannabis prohibition going, the unpopular policy will die an ignominious and swift death.

    Editor’s note: Thankfully, late yesterday AZ’s Attorney General came to reconsider this blundering policy of allowing government funding to be used to campaign against cannabis legalization efforts in the state.

    19 responses to “Arizona: Government Money Used To Oppose Marijuana Legalization”

    1. RUT says:

      Law enforcement officers have more than a conflict of interest on this matter. They want to keep lining the police budgets with ill gotten gains that are converted into more police related jobs. When florida held the marijuana debate before the midterm elections one of the main debaters was a county sheriff. Our system is proving over and over again that it is a misguided broken system. The police and justice system keep showing us the benefits of having prisons for profit and probation for profit systems. Start putting these money grabbing police departments under scrutiny like having citizen watchers observing our police and politicians. Give them the right to do behind closed door deals and they will. Your boss has the right to watch you when you are working so you should have the right to watch these public servants work for the people. I am sure less underhanded dealings and deceptive practices will take place when they are watched.

    2. Ohio soon says:

      Stop the madness, get up Arizona and spank those who waste our money on senseless endeavors that the majority say is wrong, WTF,,, why are they not getting IT.

    3. AZ has some of the harshest “drug crime” penalties and sentencing in America with prisons overrun with drug convicts and distorted budgets, making the state, in drug-war respect, as regressed as southern states like Mississippi and Alamama.

    4. Ruben Jesus Hernandez says:

      I wish America wasn’t so corrupted by money.

      Legalize Cannabis Freedom

      “If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”

      ? Samuel Adams

    5. Ruben Jesus Hernandez says:

      Most drugs of abuse suppress neurogenesis Only Cannabis promotes Neurogenesis

      Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants

      Patents on Cannabis Curing Cancer

      Cannabis and Neurogenesis

    6. Shawn Kearney says:

      This sort of thing ought to be illegal, if not already unconstitutional. Using government funds to take a political positions seems to me like voter intimidation, if not interference with freedom of speech.

    7. Miles says:

      Since various organizations are able to use our tax dollars to campaign against legalization, then those of us that want to campaign for legalization should get an equal share of those dollars!

      It is incredible that law enforcement is able to take our stuff ($$$) and then use it against us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: “This is NOT my idea of America!”.

      Because of rampant corruption among various Govt officials, our country is truly ruled by the rich; you know, the 1% that care only for themselves… How much longer can this crap go on before our civilization up and collapses? I think the first thing that will be a major clue is when money becomes worthless and everyones savings disappears suddenly. If things don’t change drastically, I believe this is what we will experience in the next 10 years or so if we continue the idiotic war against people who choose to use cannabis. Yes – I think it is that serious!

    8. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Consider how these anti-drug groups got started back in the 1980’s. Parents, and school administrators etc, came running, and crying to the government;” waaa waa my kid is smoking pot please help.” Our government gave those groups everything they wanted, not just on a silver platter, but on a golden one! Did you ever see any of these anti-drug hate group people standing on a street corner holding homemade signs or trying to get signatures on a petition?

    9. john says:

      It sounds like this funding may pose a problem for Arizona, who nearly passed medical marijuana reform. Of the six or seven states trying to legalize marijuana in 2016, what does NORML Consider to be the top 3 most important steps to get legalization legislation passed? In other words, what three states do you believe would most likely influence marijuana legalization across the nation? Perhaps California, Massachusetts, and one other? I sincerely hope that Arizona is able to overcome this challenge and legalize marijuana in 2016.

    10. john says:

      In my previous statement, it should have said that the citizens barely passed the medical marijuana ballot initiative. I use voice recognition because typing is very painful. Sorry for the “typo”. I hope this comment makes sense. Thank you.