cannabisnews.com: Pot Measure is Tough Sell at Cop Conference
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Pot Measure is Tough Sell at Cop Conference
Posted by CN Staff on November 17, 2011 at 04:21:40 PT
By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Chelan, W.A. -- John McKay, the unlikely champion of marijuana legalization, joked that he was about to be fed to lions. Then he walked on stage and tried to convince about 130 sheriffs and police chiefs that he was not crazy.For 90 minutes Wednesday, the former federal prosecutor from Seattle blasted drug laws as failed, antiquated policies that were a limitless cash machine for murderous organized-crime syndicates feeding America's seemingly bottomless appetite for marijuana.
A few in the audience  a gathering of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) at a Lake Chelan resort  nodded. But mostly the picture was one of frowns beneath mustaches.In the end, the cops voted as expected: They unanimously recommended rejection of Initiative 502, a measure headed to the Legislature or to voters next November that would legalize, tax and regulate small marijuana sales similarly to alcohol.But after listening to McKay and a counter-argument by Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug-policy adviser, several sheriffs and police chiefs described being squeezed between the rising social acceptance of marijuana, laws banning its use, and increasingly limited law-enforcement resources.McKay said passing I-502 could begin a state-based movement to force Congress into re-examining marijuana laws. "It will take states to say: This is wrong, this is our statement," he said.Sue Rahr, King County sheriff and president of WASPC, said that type of advocacy can make cops uneasy. "We enforce the law, and here we are being asked to help change the law," said Rahr, who declined to take a position in I-502. "That's a dilemma."Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said he'd have preferred the group take no position after hearing McKay. "What we have is so broken," he said. "The long-term strategy of the DEA is, 'Spend more money, hire more agents.' I hope for better."  Former Pot Foe McKay, 55, carried legitimate pot-busting bona fides to the debate.In his five years as the top federal prosecutor in Seattle, appointed by President George W. Bush, McKay's office filed charges against Canada's "Prince of Pot" and led a case involving helicopter smuggling of B.C. Bud that ultimately netted $2 million, a ton of marijuana and at least a dozen convictions.After he was forced to resign with eight other U.S. attorneys in a politically motivated purge by the Bush administration, McKay endorsed marijuana legalization in a Seattle Times opinion piece. On Wednesday, he reiterated that he doesn't smoke pot and "doesn't like people very much who smoke pot."But marijuana prohibition is the reason that British Columbia-based gangs smuggling high-grade pot are the "dominant organized crime in the Northwest," and it accounts for 40 to 60 percent of funding for Mexican cartels, he said.Prohibition also fails its objective, he said. "I think it's pretty clear that our criminalization of marijuana for the last 70 years as a vehicle to reduce its use is a failure," said McKay, citing DEA figures that 16 million Americans regularly use it.He reminded the assembled cops that a second former U.S. attorney, Kate Pflaumer, and the former FBI chief in Seattle endorsed I-502, helping make it the strongest legalization campaign to date."We are putting it on your shoulders, to put your officers out there in harm's way, to enforce a set of criminal laws that are enormously ineffective," he said.  Skeptical Authorities It was a tough sell.Mercer Island Police Chief Ed Holmes questioned why the state should legalize a drug that only is used for impairment. "With marijuana, there's only one reason you smoke it. It's not like it tastes good. You don't smoke it with your burger," he said as the audience laughed.Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said of the 244 arrests for marijuana in his county so far this year, only five people spent more than 48 hours in jail. Most pot arrests were part of more serious charges, he said."For anyone to run around and tell citizens we're keeping people in jail just for marijuana, the data does not track," he said.State data show at least 9,308 adults and 1,217 juveniles were charged statewide in 2010 for marijuana possession of less than 40 grams (about 1.4 ounces).Sabet, who worked for federal drug czar and former Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, said studies show use would undoubtedly rise with legalization, and new marijuana taxes would not cover the increased societal costs.And legalizing marijuana as a means to hurt Mexican drug cartels, as McKay argued, underestimated the gangs' sprawling resources, Sabet said."Anyone presenting a magic all-in-one solution to both reduce incarceration rates, solve the violence in Mexico, cure cancer and solve our budget woes, which is what many marijuana-legalization proponents are saying, we should be very suspect," said Sabet. State's Big Stake Campaign director Alison Holcomb, who joined McKay in Chelan, said I-502 had about 230,000 signatures and almost certainly will qualify for the November 2012 ballot.If I-502 were to pass, the state Liquor Control Board, based on federal drug-use surveys, estimates that about 445,000 people  10 percent of the adults over age 21  would use marijuana. The analysis estimates that 95 percent of users would consume two grams  roughly two thumb-sized buds  a week, and the remaining 5 percent of more hard-core users would smoke 2 grams a day.Based on those estimates, I-502 would make marijuana a top-five agricultural product in Washington, with gross receipts of nearly $582 million, according to research by the state Legislature. With a 25 percent tax at each link of the production, distribution and retail chain, I-502 would generate $215 million a year, with nearly two-thirds of it earmarked for research and addiction prevention.But one cop at Wednesday's debate, who declined to give his name, said his son's struggle with marijuana was serious enough that he had his son arrested. The young man has "straightened himself out," the cop said."I thank goodness it carries the stigma of having to be arrested, to have that hanging over his head," he said.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: November 16, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: http://www.seattletimes.com/URL: http://drugsense.org/url/T1looQYDCannabisNews  -- Cannabis Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/cannabis.shtml 
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Comment #8 posted by The GCW on November 17, 2011 at 16:13:34 PT
From 1 step back to 3 steps forward.
Regulate Marijuana Like Wine Campaign Collects Over 10,000 Signatures in First Two Weekshttp://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/content/2011/11/16/Regulate-Marijuana-Wine-Campaign-Collects-Over-10000-Signatures-First-Two-Weeks-There is some good info in it too...
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Comment #7 posted by runruff on November 17, 2011 at 12:33:06 PT
Upton Sinclair's Theorem:
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." This means, there are many for whom we cannot wait!
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Comment #6 posted by Oleg the Tumor on November 17, 2011 at 12:26:45 PT:
                    Observer
Thanks for the Upton Sinclair reference. I heard it on Ken Burns' "Prohibition", but didn't get where it came from.Your post beat mine by 3 minutes.
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Comment #5 posted by Oleg the Tumor on November 17, 2011 at 12:20:00 PT:
Here is an Honest Man . . . (and a cop, even!)
John McKay has realized what a minority in law enforcement have been saying for years:  This shouldn't involve us. Legislators make the laws, not cops.
 It is difficult to explain something to someone when their livelyhood depends on them not hearing you.And how about this character, Sabet? There's a piece of work. One of "Gil's Gargoyles".  I love his statement: "Studies show use would undoubtedly rise with legalization, and new marijuana taxes would not cover societal costs." I sure hope "use" will rise. Put some people to work.  Competetion brings lower prices.  That's the American way. And what "studies" is he talking about? And societal costs? Make me laugh. Like jails? Courts? Ruined lives because of a criminal record involving a plant?
They don't count those costs. 
Especially when its calculated as "overtime pay"!And that comment on taxes - its as if he has it all costed out on a spreadsheet. Riiight!What a speculative load of crap. All this coming from a guy whose job is, above all, to get the facts straight.All I can say is, "Heah come de judge!" Ladies and germs, I present to you Mr. John McKay, an honorable man, one who has chosen the narrow door over the wider one. "The road to hell is paved with good intention." - Twain.
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Comment #4 posted by observer on November 17, 2011 at 12:17:43 PT
understanding vs. salary
re: "Skeptical Authorities It was a tough sell. Mercer Island Police Chief ...Somewhere between slothful induction, and naked corruption.It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
 -- Upton Sinclair, The Jungle"Classic vested interest. Careers at stake. Money at stake. Cui bono? How about a little "bottom line" analysis? Maybe one of those big, important watchdog journalists -- you know, at the big important newspaper building there in Seattle -- could trouble his or her self to point out some of the most salient features of what's going on there? You know: perform a little classic investigative "follow-the-money" analysis. And point out who benefits, monetarily. Isn't that what an investigative journalist should be doing: investigating? Following the money? Of course, if the Seattle Times is really just a PR (propaganda) flack to sell government policy to the sheeple to make whatever police-state oppression go down easier, then I can understand why the most salient facts (like jail and following the money) are systematically ignored. re: "State's Big Stake ..."How's they miss the police salaries there? Big blind spot? 
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Comment #3 posted by CropReport on November 17, 2011 at 05:59:45 PT
I Consider Cannabis a Performance Enhancing Drug
"Mercer Island Police Chief Ed Holmes questioned why the state should legalize a drug that only is used for impairment. "With marijuana, there's only one reason you smoke it. It's not like it tastes good. You don't smoke it with your burger," he said as the audience laughed."I smoke cannabis every day. I do this so that I can bear weight on my feet which are chronically inflamed due to a metabolic disorder. I run two small businesses and produce enough revenue to feed my family, pay my mortgage and generally support myself. That's the reason I smoke it. I don't see how anyone can criticize my use as an effort to achieve "impairment".502 is on the ballot in WA state AND Colorado has a 2012 voter initiative asking citizens if we should regulate cannabis in a fashion similar to alcohol. It will be an impossibility for ANY candidate for president to ignore this issue.The showdown is coming.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on November 17, 2011 at 05:57:03 PT
Lion chow
Sue Rahr, King County sheriff and president of WASPC, said --- "We enforce the law, and here we are being asked to help change the law," -00-Sue, I'd be happy if you and your union would just stop perpetuating the discredited law.
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Comment #1 posted by Vincent on November 17, 2011 at 05:41:41 PT:
This is why we can't negotiate.
"But one cop at Wednesday's debate said his son's struggle with marijuana was serious enough that he had his son arrested. The young man has 'straightened himself out.
I thank goodness it carries the stigma of having to be arrested, to have that hanging over his head,' he said".He had his son ARRESTED? And he's not even ashamed, I'll bet. Why do we even try to negotiate with these animals?
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