Pubdate: Sun, 3 Oct 2010
Source: San Diego Union Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Note: Seldom prints LTEs from outside it's circulation area.
Authors: Norm Stamper, Stephen Downing & Joseph McNamara
Note: Stamper served as chief of police in Seattle and previously was 
executive assistant chief of police in San Diego. Downing was deputy 
chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. McNamara served as chief 
of police in San Jose and in Kansas City.
Cited: Proposition 19
Bookmark: (Proposition 19)


Let's face facts: Our laws criminalizing marijuana have been a huge 
failure. Proposition 19 on November's ballot is the perfect 
opportunity for California to get things right.

As law enforcement veterans who policed the beat in California and 
elsewhere for a combined total of 89 years, the three of us have 
witnessed firsthand the harm our marijuana laws are doing to our 
communities, and we know how badly reform is needed.

Every year California spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars 
and thousands of police hours on the war against marijuana. What has 
this accomplished? Has it made our communities any safer? Has it done 
anything to control marijuana and keep it away from kids?

The answer is no.

Ask any teen today and they will tell you illegal marijuana is easier 
for them to get than legal and age-regulated alcohol. That's because 
illegal dealers on the street don't require ID like liquor stores do.

At the same time, every police hour spent targeting nonviolent adult 
marijuana offenders is an hour that could have gone toward protecting 
our communities from the real threat of violent crime. In 2008 almost 
60,000 violent crimes went unsolved in California. That same year, 
more than 61,000 Californians were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana 
possession. Our public safety priorities are all wrong.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, vicious drug cartels are flush with cash from 
the illegal U.S. marijuana market. According to the White House, the 
cartels generate more than 60 percent of their revenue from illegal 
marijuana sales. These criminals use this funding to carry out their 
bloody agenda. This year alone, the cartels have so far murdered more 
than 7,700 people in Mexico. That's more than the total number of 
U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined since 2003.

When it comes to our marijuana laws, the status quo just isn't working.

Proposition 19 is the sensible solution to all these problems. The 
initiative will protect our kids, make our communities safer and end 
the senseless and wasteful practice of arresting and incarcerating 
nonviolent adults for small-time marijuana offenses.

By taking marijuana out of the shadows and placing it under the 
control of safe, regulated, taxed businesses that only sell to those 
21 and over, Proposition 19 will cut off a huge portion of the 
funding to the drug cartels, so they will have less resources for 
mayhem and murder.

After Proposition 19 passes, if any adult attempts to provide 
marijuana to a minor, they will be hit with increased criminal 
penalties. The initiative was carefully written to protect our kids 
and improve public safety.

Proposition 19 also bans smoking marijuana in public, on school 
grounds and while minors are present. This sensible measure also 
maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence 
and preserves the rights of employers to ban drug use in the workplace.

And by putting a stop to tens of thousands of marijuana arrests each 
year, Proposition 19 will enable our law enforcement to cast aside 
the mountains of paperwork they currently must process on low-level 
offenses, and finally spend their precious time, and our precious tax 
dollars, doing what we signed up for: taking violent criminals off 
the streets and keeping them locked up.

But enacting meaningful reform is never easy. There are always those 
who will vigorously defend the status quo.

Those who oppose Proposition 19, it seems, would rather we sit back 
and keep doing what we are doing: continuing to arrest more marijuana 
consumers while thousands of violent crimes go unsolved; continuing 
to provide funding to the drug cartels; continuing to make it easier 
for kids to get marijuana than alcohol and continuing to deny 
California the billions in revenue that would come from taxing marijuana.

It's crazy to continue doing the same thing over and over, decade 
after decade, and expect different results.

That's why law enforcement leaders throughout California and the 
nation are joining us in backing Proposition 19, including the 
National Black Police Association and dozens of individual California 
police officers, judges and prosecutors who recently released a joint 
letter of endorsement.

Please join us in voting yes on Proposition 19 this November. Law 
enforcement is counting on California to make the sensible choice.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake