Pubdate: Sat, 14 May 2016
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Christopher Cadelago


Police Chiefs Group Says Congressman Misled in Remarks

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, Stands by Comments

When Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher endorsed the California 
initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, the one-time 
speechwriter for former President Ronald Reagan railed against a 
justice system that spends billions "to try to take care of someone 
who wants to smoke weed in his backyard."

"How many women have been raped or people have been murdered by 
distracting our law enforcement?" Rohrabacher asked last week in San Francisco.

The Orange County congressman's comment didn't sit well with Ventura 
Police Chief Ken Corney, president of the California Police Chiefs 
Association, a leading opponent of pot legalization.

In a letter to Rohrabacher, Corney said the statements were 
misleading and inaccurate, noting that marijuana possession in 
California has been decriminalized since then-Gov. Arnold 
Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449. "Considering that the 
possession of nearly $300 worth of marijuana in California is a 
non-penal infraction, I am perplexed by your statement," he wrote.

"I have never heard of a sexual assault or murder occurring due to 
the fact that our officers were responding to an individual consuming 
marijuana on his or her personal property, and to make such an 
assertion is insulting to the brave men and women who risk their 
lives to keep Californians safe."

Corney said California's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 
"currently spends zero dollars annually incarcerating persons found 
in simple possession of marijuana."

He went on to contend that the California legalization measure is not 
about social justice, criminal justice savings, granting people the 
freedom to smoke marijuana on their personal property or protecting 
public safety.

"It is about the commercialization and normalization of marijuana," 
Corney said.

Reached by phone, Rohrabacher said his comments pertained to the 
federal criminal justice system, not California, where the initiative 
would apply.

"I don't read the word 'California' in my quote," he said. "Anybody 
that complains that I am being 'misleading' and 'inaccurate' better 
be accurate in what they are saying. And they are not."

"The fact is we have, as part of the war against weed, or the war 
against marijuana, we are spending billions of dollars. And it is 
part of a criminal justice operation at the national level."

Even in California, he said, it's counterproductive. He again 
questioned how many officers might be distracted from their beats of 
patrolling neighborhoods for "real criminals" by having to give 
citations to someone with a joint in their pocket.

Rohrabacher also noted that the Police Chiefs Association was one of 
the organizations that originally opposed the SB 1449 cited in its 
own letter. "I think there's a contradiction there."

He concluded: "I guess the cops have every right to grandstand on 
this issue like everybody else does."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom