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Law Enforcers Want 'war' To End

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US MO: OPED: Law Enforcers Want 'War' To End


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URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v13/n195/a06.html

Newshawk: Kirk

Votes: 0

Pubdate: Sun, 05 May 2013

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune (MO)

Copyright: 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune

Contact: editor@tribmail.com

Website: http://www.columbiatribune.com/

Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/91

Note: Prints the street address of LTE writers.

Author: Tony Ryan

Note: Tony Ryan is a 36-year veteran of the Denver Police Department

and a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group

representing more than 5,000 law enforcement officials opposed to the

prohibition of marijuana (www.CopsSayLegalizeMarijuana.com)




Officers Have Higher Priorities.


What are police officers for, and why do we have them? How are their time and your tax dollars best used? Most people don't often consider these questions, but as Missouri legislators consider changing the laws regarding personal use and possession of marijuana, they are worth pondering.


I spent 36 years on the streets of Denver as a police officer, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts you think police should be using most of their time providing quick response to your calls for service and working to prevent and solve crimes like assault, murder, rape, robbery. I'd bet you would think the old saying "When seconds count, police are only minutes away" should be limited to as few minutes as possible and that police should be just around the corner when someone threatens your property, your well-being or your life.


Under current law, however, this often isn't possible because police and other law enforcement officers must divide their limited time and resources between doing what's most important to the state's residents and enforcing outdated marijuana laws.


So here's another question: If it means we are all less safe, should we be prosecuting nonviolent people for what might be considered a bad habit ( like smoking or drinking ) at all?


Throughout the country, citizens are rethinking their police priorities. You see evidence of this in the 18 states ( and District of Columbia ) that have approved medical marijuana laws and in Colorado and Washington, where voters approved legalizing marijuana use and possession in small amounts for adults older than 21 last year.


Right now, Show-Me Cannabis is campaigning to change Missouri's laws regarding use and possession of marijuana. Joining this effort is St. Louis police Sgt. Gary Wiegert, a 30-year veteran of the department, who advocates for change on his own time off-duty.


You might think Sgt. Wiegert is a bit out of step with his colleagues in law enforcement; in fact, the opposite is true. He is one of thousands of current and retired police officers, prosecutors and judges who have seen the effects of a decades-old policy that has only resulted in more drug use, violence, death and disease, and who believe we can do better. I, and many others like me, also changed my mind about the drug policies we were sworn to uphold after seeing the tragic results of this policy.


The "war on drugs" simply doesn't work. Drug use remains about the same as where it was when Richard Nixon began the war on drugs in earnest more than 41 years ago. Meanwhile, the profits created by the black market fuel the violence among our cities' street gangs, Latin America's drug cartels and countless other ills. It is, in fact, one of the largest sources of complaints against law enforcement officers nationwide, eroding respect for our laws and those charged with fair and proper enforcement of them.


The efforts of Sgt. Wiegert and Show-Me Cannabis are about stopping the fallout from our current drug policies - the violence and the waste of law enforcement time that could be better spent, the profit made by drug dealers and cartels and the damage to the futures of hundreds of thousands of youths prosecuted in this "war." I encourage the people of Missouri to stand with me, Sgt. Wiegert, Show-Me Cannabis and thousands of your fellow Missourians and reach out to your state legislators to show your support for changing marijuana laws.

MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom


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