Law Enforcement Rallies Against Marijuana Bills

Feb 26, 2014

Pros­e­cu­tors, police chiefs and sher­iffs gath­ered Tues­day in Annapo­lis to push back against the grow­ing move­ment to decrim­i­nal­ize pos­ses­sion of small amounts of mar­i­juana or to legal­ize recre­ational use of the drug alto­gether. At a news con­fer­ence and at a Sen­ate hear­ing, law enforce­ment lead­ers warned that loos­en­ing mar­i­juana laws would under­mine drug enforce­ment across the board. They said it would be pre­ma­ture to pass a bill fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton state, which recently legal­ized pot, and opposed a sep­a­rate mea­sure that would treat pos­ses­sion as a minor civil offense. “This leg­is­la­tion sends a hor­ri­ble mes­sage,” said Riverdale Park Police Chief David Mor­ris, speak­ing for the Mary­land Chiefs of Police Asso­ci­a­tion. Har­ford County State’s Attor­ney Joseph I. Cas­silly, speak­ing on behalf of the Mary­land State’s Attor­neys Asso­ci­a­tion, called the move­ment to legal­ize pot in Mary­land “a rush to judg­ment.” Cas­silly said the state should wait for legal­iza­tion in Col­orado and Wash­ing­ton to be thor­oughly stud­ied, instead of rely­ing on “anec­do­tal evi­dence from a bunch of pot heads.” The oth­er­wise solid show of sup­port for the state’s exist­ing mar­i­juana laws was cracked by the tes­ti­mony of Neill Franklin, a retired Bal­ti­more police major who has emerged as a vocal oppo­nent of the war on drugs in gen­eral and the pro­hi­bi­tion of mar­i­juana in par­tic­u­lar. “It didn’t work back in the 1920s with alco­hol pro­hi­bi­tion,” he said. “We should have learned from his­tory.” Franklin argued the effect of pro­hibit­ing mar­i­juana has been to leave its reg­u­la­tion in the hands of drug car­tels and street gangs. Most of the active law enforce­ment offi­cers who attended took a hard line against legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana for recre­ational use, though they were clear that their oppo­si­tion did not extend to pro­pos­als mak­ing med­ical mar­i­juana more read­ily avail­able to those who need it. “Those lines should not be blurred,” said Anne Arun­del County Police Chief Kevin Davis, speak­ing at a morn­ing news con­fer­ence. Some of the offi­cers ran into trou­ble in the less-forgiving venue of the Sen­ate hear­ing, where the spon­sors of the legal­iza­tion and decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bills repeat­edly sought proof of police asser­tions that law enforce­ment and pub­lic health would be ham­pered by their bills. Annapo­lis Police Chief Michael A. Pris­toop asserted that 37 peo­ple had died of mar­i­juana over­doses on the first day of legal­iza­tion in Col­orado last month. The claim drew groans from the packed hear­ing room. Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Mont­gomery County Demo­c­rat who spon­sored the legal­iza­tion bill, pointed out that Pris­toop had fallen for a hoax that ran in the satir­i­cal pub­li­ca­tion the Daily Cur­rant. Pris­toop later issued an apol­ogy. “I believed the infor­ma­tion I obtained was accu­rate but I now know the story is noth­ing more than an urban leg­end,” he said in a state­ment. Police warn­ings of the dan­ger of mar­i­juana over­doses aroused skep­ti­cism among sen­a­tors of both par­ties. “The only peo­ple I’ve seen over­dose on mar­i­juana had a big snack and fell asleep,” said Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Har­ford County Repub­li­can. Mor­ris also took some heat from sen­a­tors over his asser­tion that decrim­i­nal­iz­ing mar­i­juana would lead to an increase in drug use. Sen. Robert A. Zirkin, a Bal­ti­more County Demo­c­rat and author of the decrim­i­nal­iza­tion bill, said he had “looked high and low” for evi­dence from 16 states that now treat mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion as a civil offense. He said he found no evi­dence sug­gest­ing that usage had increased. When Zirkin pressed Mor­ris to back up his asser­tion with stud­ies, the chief could not. Pub­lic polls show grow­ing sup­port for loos­en­ing mar­i­juana laws in Mary­land and across the coun­try. A recent Bal­ti­more Sun Poll found that 58 per­cent of Mary­land vot­ers favor either legal­iza­tion or decrim­i­nal­iza­tion. Source: Bal­ti­more Sun (MD) Author: Michael Dresser and Erin Cox, The Bal­ti­more Sun Pub­lished: Feb­ru­ary 25, 2014 Copy­right: 2014 The Bal­ti­more Sun Con­tact: letters@​baltsun.​com Web­site: http://​www​.bal​ti​more​sun​.com/

f6e7228ebepolice.jpg 150x94 Law Enforcement Rallies Against Marijuana Bills

Read more from the orig­i­nal source:
Law Enforce­ment Ral­lies Against Mar­i­juana Bills

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