Without a doubt the question I’m most often asked professionally is this: “Why is marijuana still illegal?”
The common inference behind this question is that there must be some behind the scenes cabal of Big Pharma, Tobacco, and Alcohol executives conspiring to keep cannabis illegal. By contrast, the real culprits behind pot prohibition are far more overt.
Law enforcement organizations — including cops, district attorneys, prosecutors, prison guard unions, sheriffs, and narcotics officers associations — remain the primary force working against sensible marijuana law reform.
Case in point? Look no further than these two egregious examples:
Los Angeles County D.A. prepares to crack down on pot outlets
via the Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Thursday he will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales, targeting a practice that has become commonplace under an initiative approved by California voters more than a decade ago.
“The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory,” he said. “The time is right to deal with this problem.”
Cooley and Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich recently concluded that state law bars sales of medical marijuana, an opinion that could spark a renewed effort by law enforcement across the state to rein in the use of marijuana. It comes as polls show a majority of state voters back legalization of marijuana, and supporters are working to place the issue on the ballot next year.
Even prior to the passage of California’s passage of Prop. 215, cannabis dispensaries — the same sort of dispensaries that D.A. Cooley now unilaterally defines as a “problem” — operated openly, and without incident, in L.A. County. Today, over 1,000 such operations exist in Los Angeles. District Attorney Cooley has now arbitrarily declared that “100%” of these dispensaries are acting illegally based not on a court decision, but rather on his own personal anti-pot bias.
Do a majority of public of L.A. county share D.A. Cooley’s view that open market, regulated medi-pot transactions are, in fact, a “problem?” Not at all. Does the will of the voters actually matter to their District Attorney? Not at all.
According to a separate story from the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, D.A. Cooley “was one of dozens of guests at a recent conference … in which the topic was the ‘eradication of medical-marijuana dispensaries in the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County,’ according to a flier advertising the event hosted by the California Narcotics Officers’ Association.”
This, of course, would be the same California Narcotics Officers Association that just last month issued the white paper: “California Police Chiefs Association Position Paper on the Decriminalization of Marijuana.” You can read the entire position paper here (Have a potent anti-emetic handy!), but here’s some excerpts.
“Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, was passed by California voters in 1996 on a ballot initiative promoted by those who subscribe to the idea that all drug use should be legalized.”
“It has become clear, despite the claims of use by critically ill people that only about 2% of those using crude Marijuana for medicine are critically ill. [Editor’s note: Predictably, no statements, including this bogus percentage, are actually cited with any supporting documentation.] The vast majority of those using crude Marijuana as medicine are young and are using the substance to be under the influence of THC and have no critical medical condition. … Marijuana is being abused by people who have no serous medical condition and simply like to be intoxicated on Marijuana.”
“Marijuana as a smoked product has never proven to be medically beneficial and, in fact, is much more likely to harm one’s health.”
“The thought of decriminalizing Marijuana or allowing taxation of Marijuana is bewildering. The thought that a group of individuals would want to advocate for decriminalization of a substance that the state of California has deemed to be carcinogenic is alarming. [Editor’s note: Alcoholic beverages and aspirin — along with over 300 other substances — are also included on California’s Prop. 65 list of official carcinogens. I suppose the CNOA would argue that these substances ought to be illegal as well.]
“The use of intoxicating and addictive substances fuels crime and destroys lives by creating addiction and dependency. Children are victims of abuse and neglect at the hands of parents or caretakers who live in addiction. Young adults are particularly vulnerable to addiction. Relaxed attitudes toward drug use place them at greater risk of addiction. Clearly legalization of Marijuana will lead to great use by those who would not use if it were not legal. [Editor’s note: Virtually every study on this subject finds just the opposite outcome. You can read summaries from a couple dozen or so here, here, and here.] This increased use will lead to negative outcomes.”
“Much as we see in the use of other controlled substances, people who become addicted to Marijuana and cannot afford to maintain their addiction will turn to crime in order to supply themselves with their drug of choice.”
“Marijuana is not and never will be good for the success, education, and well-being of our society. When a person examines the two known abused drugs in our society, alcohol and tobacco, from a Public Health standpoint, those two substances would be recommended today to be banned. [Editor’s note: And apparently the CNOA would be in full support of such a ban.] The California Police Chiefs Association clearly understands that this will not occur. But, the discussion of Marijuana is important especially in light of the money being infused by the Drug Alliance [Editor’s note: Who are they?] and their ability to prey on unsuspecting compassionate people of our great state.”
Who is really behind marijuana prohibition. The answer should be obvious.
By National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws