Police officers gathered with judges and prosecutors in Denver today, coming out to support Colorado's marijuana legalization initiative.
Tony Ryan, a 36-year veteran Denver police lieutenant and LEAP, told reporters that the marijuana-related calls his department received were rarely threatening, and more likely the result of an axe to ground than serious concern. Marijuana use, he says, is not related to crime, and legalizing it would reduce the strain on officer resources.
“Beyond just being ineffective, these laws waste important law enforcement resources that could instead be going to things that actually protect public safety, like solving and preventing murders, rapes and robberies," said Ryan.
In a sign-on letter, law enforcement explained how legalizing marijuana would have positive consequences. They write that Amendment 64, which legalizes and regulates marijuana for adults over 21, would:
- Put our police priorities where they belong, by ending the arrests of non-violent marijuana users and enabling police to focus instead on preventing violent crime
- Cut off funding to violent gangs and drug cartels, who generate the majority of their revenue from illegal marijuana sales
- Protect the lives of police officers now in the line of fire in the "drug war"
- Reduce marijuana access to children by instituting strict age-limits and public safety controls
- Restore mutual respect and good relations between law enforcement and communities bearing the brunt of the current marijuana laws
The Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimates that by taxing weed and saving law enforcement resources, Amendment 64 would generate $60 million in tax revenue and savings annually. The initiative states that the first $40 million raised each year will be spent improving education.
A close friend of nearly 40-years is a recently retired Detroit cop with a PhD in criminology. He has always advocated decriminalization of pot. He talked of going into homes and finding one family member shot dead and a nearly empty bottle of whiskey on the table but he never saw that with anyone who had been smoking weed.