Pubdate: Fri, 26 Sep 2014
Source: Palm Beach Post, The (FL)
Copyright: 2014 The Palm Beach Post
Author: Neill Franklin
Note: Retired Maj. Neil Franklin is executive director of Law 
Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of 150,000 former 
police, judges, prosecutors, and supporters of drug policy reform. He 
wrote this for the Palm Beach Post.

Hot Topic: Medical Marijuana


When I began my 34-year career in law enforcement as a narcotics 
agent, I never would have imagined that someday I would become an 
advocate for legal medical marijuana.

Back in those days, I was an undercover officer posing as a user in 
search of narcotics. I made drug buys. I seized property. I arrested 
thousands of people and saw, over time, that my efforts actually 
contributed to street violence and that marijuana had become cheaper, 
more potent and more plentiful than ever before. A Pew Research 
Center study last year found that roughly half of American adults (48 
percent) admitted having tried marijuana, the highest percentage ever.

I saw a lot of people killed in the crossfire. Among the thousands 
who have lost their lives was my good friend and former partner, who 
was shot in the head by a dealer during an undercover buy.

For all our hard work, investment and lives lost, the only people who 
have been helped by the prohibition of medical marijuana have been 
the criminals themselves. We have given them an absolute monopoly 
over an illegal product for which there is an insatiable demand - a 
sure-fire recipe for riches amid the murder and mayhem.

That's one of the reasons I support Amendment 2, which will enable 
Florida to join the 23 other states that allow patients access to 
safe, legal medical marijuana on their doctor's recommendation.

As a career law enforcement officer, I know that the best way to shut 
down the criminal gangs is to take away their market - and that if 
Amendment 2 does nothing but remove a portion of the illicit 
marijuana trade from the control of criminals, it is worthy of our support.

Nobody who is suffering from a serious medical condition should be 
forced to become a criminal just because he or she is sick. It is a 
waste of our time as police officers and a distraction from our real 
job of protecting citizens from real dangers.

Obviously, any inexperienced person seeking out drug dealers runs the 
risk of physical injury or worse. More often, these patients face 
arrest, criminal prosecution and the possible seizure of their 
property - all for using a plant that their doctor believes will help 
relieve their suffering.

These are sick people. They need safe, reliable medicine - not 
contraband that is often treated with dangerous pesticides or other 
toxins, or has become stale with mold.

If their doctors recommend medical marijuana, they ought to be able 
to purchase a safe, pharmaceutical-grade product in a protected 
marketplace, just like any other medicine.

Most important (to me, at least), their dollars should not be going 
to the likes of the guy who murdered my ex-partner - the vicious 
criminals I encountered every single day of my 34 years as a cop.

Some Florida law enforcement administrators have been extremely vocal 
in their opposition to Amendment 2, so much so that several Florida 
newspapers have condemned their misstatements and distortions as 
"scare tactics" and "fear-mongering."

I suspect that these elected police administrators and their 
departments have become so dependent on federal anti-drug grants (as 
well as the property and cash seized from those involved in drug 
activity) that they instinctively resist any change in the status quo 
- - even a common-sense, compassionate reform like Amendment 2. The war 
on drugs has been a $1 trillion enterprise, and any change at all 
might bring down the entire house of cards.

Even giving them the benefit of the doubt, however, their fears do 
not justify the price being paid by thousands of Florida patients. We 
are cops, not doctors, and we have no right to be standing between 
you and your doctor when it comes to the effectiveness of safe, 
regulated medical marijuana.
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