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Former Detroit Police Chief Ike Mckinnon Joins Call To End Marijuana Prohibition

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Advocates for removing legal prohibitions on marijuana have an unlikely ally in former Detroit Police Chief Isiah “Ike” McKinnon.


: "I've never taken a public position on this, but I think it's time to do so," McKinnon says. "We have to stand up for things we believe are right. ... My position is, let's look at this realistically and honestly. Too much law enforcement money and resources are being used on this. There are better things to spend our money on."


McKinnon was a Detroit Police officer from 1965 to 1984 and Chief of Police from 1993 to 1998 during Mayor Dennis Archer's first term. While serving as chief, he met secretly with southwest side gang members to create athletics and tutoring programs, talked a woman down from jumping off the bridge to Belle Isle, and did the same for a man threatening to jump off the People Mover…His position that marijuana should be legalized joins that of a growing group of former law enforcement officials who have come to the conclusion that our drug policies have to change.

Actually, McKinnon isn’t Detroit’s first top cop to advocate for alternatives to the drug war.


Former Chief Jerry Oliver was vocal in his belief that law enforcement is an ineffective method to deal with the drug problem.


As Richmond, VA’s police chief he penned a 2000 Richmond Times-Dispatch op/ed calling for an end to the costly focus on drug crimes: “These billions might be better spent on demand reduction, prevention, treatment, education, community-building, and supporting families.”


Oliver, while Detroit’s chief, was featured in a

special about the futility of drug enforcement efforts.


The drug war’s cost is high according to Tim Beck of the Coalition for a Safer Detroit. Beck is a long-time advocate for drug law reform. He says the United States incarcerates roughly 500,000 non-violent drug offenders. In comparison, he says, European Union prisons house a total of 700,000 prisoners.


“A simple possession charge can mark a young person for life,” Beck said. “Even in terms of finding a job.”


Beck, who describes himself as an economic conservative/libertarian, cites Colorado’s medical marijuana policy, where 150 dispensaries are regulated and their product is taxed, as a model for decriminalization/legalization.


“Since Michigan’s medical marijuana law passed, 100,000 have registered as users and 50,000 have registered as care givers who grow marijuana, but there’s no crime wave,” Beck said. “It hasn’t happened.”

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