Pubdate: Fri, 25 Mar 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic
Author: Finn Selander
Note: Finn Selander is a retired DEA agent who now lives in Phoenix. 
He is a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a nationwide 
organization of more than 150,000 former law enforcement offices, 
criminal justice professionals and supporters working to end the drug war.


I was a warrior in the war on drugs.

I spent 20 years fighting the flow of drugs into America, including 
18 years as a DEA special agent. As a special agent, I helped 
spearhead the Drug Enforcement Administration's marijuana efforts in 
Florida and New Mexico before retiring.

I spent a lifetime's work in law enforcement, mostly centered on 
stanching the flow drugs into America, and have come to one 
conclusion: I don't believe marijuana should be illegal.

Yes, despite a career spent trying to take marijuana off our streets 
- - targeting low-level drug dealers, momand-pop grow operations, 
mega-growers and foreign drug traffickers - I realize our tax dollars 
and law enforcement resources could have been better spent.

While I believe I did a good job during my time in the DEA, I have 
come to the conclusion the war on marijuana has been a wasted effort 
and should end. In Arizona, we have a chance in November to do just that.

I support the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol because it 
is long past time to end prohibition and allow adults to safely and 
legally use marijuana.

I can speak freely only now because I am retired. I worked with many 
colleagues who have similar views but must keep quiet for fear of retribution.

Prohibition of marijuana just hasn't worked to reduce its use. 
Marijuana is readily available to anyone who wants it, easy to 
produce and used typically in the privacy of a home. But here's 
another important reason to legal the drug: We get to control and 
regulate the growth and purchase of marijuana from reputable 
dispensaries, and take it out of the hands of the otherwise 
unstoppable drug cartels.

We often faced off against armed traffickers sporting Tech-9s and 
assault weapons. They had better equipment, state-of-the-art 
surveillance abilities and a long supply of young men willing to live 
a gangster lifestyle.

The DEA estimates that about half of the profit for the cartels comes 
from marijuana. And they plow those profits back into creating a 
better cartel to sell their products.

No law-enforcement member wants to waste time investigating and then 
busting low-level marijuana users. Instead, our resources should be 
used to prevent or solve real crime. Just twothirds of murders are 
solved, down significantly since 1960 when the clearance rate was 
about 90 percent. Instead of targeting potheads, we need to focus our 
resources on violent crimes that cause actual pain and suffering.

Afew years ago I decided it was time to leave the DEA. After 
targeting lowlevel offenders for petty marijuana violations, it no 
longer seemed a job worth doing.

I support the effort underway to allow adults to legally use 
marijuana. In part this is because marijuana is safer than alcohol 
and it doesn't make sense to punish people who use it. But more 
importantly, I support regulating the production and sale of 
marijuana so that we can deliver a serious blow to the powerful 
cartels that cause so much crime and violence in Arizona.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom