A police chief’s argument for legalizing pot…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t smoke pot, and I don’t know anyone well these days who smokes recreationally. I have no desire to start–unless I’m stricken with an incredibly painful chronic or terminal illness, and cannabis turns out to be the only substance that offers relief.

My lack of personal enthusiasm for pot not withstanding, I very much agree with Joseph D. McNamara, the former police chief of San Jose and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. He says that it is time for California voters to “bring common sense to law enforcement” by legalizing marijuana for adults.

On November 2, California voters have the opportunity to say yes or no to Proposition 19. If approved by voters, Proposition 19 would legalize various marijuana-related activities and allow local governments to regulate these activities and to impose and collected related fees and taxes.

Writing in Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, McNamara says: “Like an increasing number of law enforcers, I have learned that most bad things about marijuana–especially the violence made inevitable by an obscenely profitable black market–are caused by the prohibition, not by the plant.”

He adds that “wrongheaded opponents’ will bring up the same old tired arguments as they try to convince voters to say no to Proposition 19 which would legalize recreational use of marijuana in California.

Those tired old arguments include:

Legalizing marijuana will add one more harmful legal substance to the mix of drugs people–including youths–are abusing.

McNamara says: “Marijuana is already in the mix.” It’s widely available, including to teenagers. Citing government and academic studies, McNamara says more than 80 percent of U.S. teenagers say that marijuana is “easy” or “very easy” to obtain–easier than obtaining age-regulated alcohol.

–Drug gangs will keep selling marijuana even under legalization:

To which McNamara says Silly. Who would buy pot on dangerous streets if they could get it at regulated stores without unsafe impurities? … Legalization would seriously cripple [drug gangs] operations.” He notes that 200,000 people have been killed in drug turf battles in Mexico in the last three years.

Two hundred thousand.

“Undercutting the cartels is an urgent priority for both Mexicans’ and Americans’ safety,” McNamara says.

15 thoughts on “A police chief’s argument for legalizing pot…

  1. Voting yes on the initiative will also eliminate the pollution and habitat damage to our state and national forests caused by illicit pot gardens tended and harvested by illegal aliens who do not give a damn about the long term damage they inflict on our national treasures. I'm hoping that someday soon the answer to the question, “Are there legal pot farms in Berkley?” We can hoarsely answer, ” Ohhhh Yeahhhh.”


  2. There is a difference between legalizing pot and decriminalizing pot. Legalizing it means that it could be sold freely and used freely. However, decriminalizing it means that you won't be prosecuted if you have it.

    I think that once we legalize one drug, gangs will still seek out other ways of making money. They will move on to another drug and continue in their violent smuggling. There will always be something to be smuggled illegally. If marijuana is legalized, gangs will simply sell marijuana at a cheaper price and people will buy from them.

    The key to all of this is addiction. Those who are addicted to marijuana will continue to abuse it. Those who are pro-marijuana will not change their minds, and those who are against it will not change their minds either. If people abuse marijuana and let it control their lives, I say let them do so. If people want to be alcoholics, let them be. Just don't kill anyone by having DUIs.

    Banning things won't solve problems anymore. We need to start educating people about addiction and how addiction affects their daily lives.


  3. Legalize and tax! End the black market on it and help state revenues. Create age rules similar to alcohol.
    What is crazy is that Pot is criminalized yet alcohol is not and it seems every week, Drunk Drivers are killing innocent people. Haven't heard many stories of stoners killing innocent people on the road while driving. Huge Double Standard!!


  4. Polling shows that a lot of opposition is from worried parents, Soccer moms if you will. The best advice I can give a parent is that their kid can (and eventually will) find cannabis. It is readily available. Prohibition and the war on cannabis has failed. The real question is do you want your child to be a criminal for their choice to use cannabis. The real danger is continuing to lock up people, put them in the system, affect their livelihoods and careers, and give them an outlaw mentality for a failed policy.

    Cannabis is safer than booze by a long shot, so why are we pushing our kids to drink? We must make more sensible choices for the future. Vote yes on Prop. 19! For more info visit http://www.taxcannabis.org.


  5. Yep, if you can't control an abusive behavior, then legalize it and solve the problem.

    Use a cell phone while driving
    Child pornography

    and, biggest of all…

    Illegal immigration.

    Yep, easy huh?


  6. There are always claims that California will rake in billions of dollars in tax revenue. But if pot is legal, who's going to be paying the taxes if people are just growing it themselves? The tax revenue just won't be there.
    “I think that once we legalize one drug, gangs will still seek out other ways of making money.” this has proven to be true so far. Pot has been decriminalized in Oakland, there are clubs all over Los Angeles, and the gangs have moved onto other things. Even marijuana friendly Amsterdam has been closing shops because of the rising drug crime rate. Sad but true, legal pot has brought in other drugs.

    If it's going to be legal, it should be treated like alcohol – but even the alcohol laws in the US are a mess.


  7. Such weak arguments against…

    Let me see…

    Making criminals of 800,000 people every year is not working. Jails are overcrowded, the drug testing industry is out of control, and violence on the border is greater than ever. There is more cannabis available under prohibition than would ever be under a controlled and regulated system. Drug dealers do not ask for ID. Sorry.

    The old “everyone will grow their own” argument does not hold water. You can make your own beer and while some do, most do not. Why? Because it is a cumbersome process and difficult to do well. The same will be true for cannabis. It is difficult to grow high quality cannabis. Most people do not have the time or the energy in their lives for that.

    Putting up Straw man arguments about cell phone driving, wife-beating, adultery (which last time I checked is immoral but not illegal) and other dangerous activities is BS. Zero deaths from cannabis. End of story. None. Nada. Stretching the argument in this manner just shows how weak the opposition is.

    And the Netherlands has a MUCH lower usage rate amongst teens and adults than the US. Why? Because it is not taboo. While the Netherlands have been talking about closing coffee shops for years, NONE have been closed/ Why? Because the locals will not be having that and the Netherlands understand that tolerance is working.

    In fact, the real comparison is with booze. When prohibition was lifted from booze the gangsters that made their riches in that industry became irrelevant. The real businesspersons, like Joe Kennedy, made legal money from distribution rights and contracts. Imagine that. A legal and safe industry was formed. I think we can all agree that bootleggers no longer rule the streets of Chicago. The same will be for cannabis.

    but hey, if you want to continue on the status quo FAILURE then knock yourself out. For those who see that the war on cannabis is a complete failure, are tired of seeing their loved ones be treated as criminals, and believe that cannabis is a safe and effective plant that has been demonized by the powers at be VOTE YES on PROP 19!


  8. The silly “protect the children” argument was even used by the Nazis when they shoved people into the ovens. It is the parent’s responsibility to keep their children from drinking, sniffing glue, jumping out of a moving car, etc.. Millions of parents keep their children from drinking so why is marijuana any different? At what age does big brother (the government) think that ADULTS can handle weed? 18, 21, 35, WILL WE NEVER BE OLD ENOUGH?


  9. Gangs will always be around. They will simply deal other drugs like cocaine, heroine, and ecstasy. The bootleggers are still around. They simply have taken the form of gangs. Gangs are far more violent and hit closer to home than bootleggers. Our very own teenagers deal drugs and join gangs. Drive by shootings and random violence are a plague on our society. The bootleggers were mostly organized crime and they were not a terror to every neighborhood.

    Marijuana addiction exists. Alcohol addiction exists. If marijuana is legalized the addiction will simply shift from one legal drug(alcohol) to another drugs (marijuana).

    The problem is that marijuana can be taken in compact and various forms such as a brownie. This has caused parent panic. Parents are afraid that their children will get addicted right under their noses without showing any signs. With alcohol, you would need a lot of alcohol to get addicted, but drunkenness would be visible. With marijuana, being high could be less obvious. Kids would simply looked tired or lazy.

    If you are a parent, and you do a good job, you will be able to spot if your teenager is dealing with addiction to alcohol or marijuana.

    I have spoken to people in the pharmacy industry. They are very excited at the idea of legalization of marijuana. It could bring in tons of money for chain pharmacies. Like all things, there are big and powerful companies that stand to make a profit and they are joining in this legalization fight. Just like the tobacco companies, why not make money off of something addictive. People demand the product. Who cares about the people. It's a source of great profit.


  10. This argument just reeks of fallacies, so I will break it down for you:

    You write: “The bootleggers are around. They just took the form of gangs.” That is just not true. I think we can all agree that the gang-bangers down the street are not part of the Capone family. The prohibition of drugs and law enforcement stance vs. health issue stance has created this environment of crime. Prohibition never worked.

    “Marijuana addiction exists.” Well maybe mentally, but there have never been any reliable studies that have shown a physical addiction like you find with booze, pills, and other drugs. Mental addiction can occur over food, cell phone use, and even toys. Should we outlaw all of them because people with addictive personalities cannot control themselves? Making criminals out of responsible people is not the way to control the mental addiction of a few weak minded people.

    “The problem is that marijuana can be taken in compact and various forms such as a brownie. Parents are afraid that their children will get addicted right under their noses without showing any signs.” Umm first off “tired and lazy” are signs, as you state. And secondly, DO A BETTER JOB OF PARENTING! It never ceases to amaze me that parents will constantly shirk their parenting responsibility onto society and act as if the entire world should be treated as criminals because they cannot have a real and honest conversation with their kids over drug use. It is appalling. the fact is that YOUR PRECIOUS KID CAN GET CANNABIS EASILY RIGHT NOW. And when he does, do you want him to have a criminal record for his mistake and your parenting failure? Should he not get into college, lose financial aid, not get a job or be imprisoned for his choice to use cannabis instead of raiding your medicine cabinet? Do pharmaceuticals like Valium not have the same “tired and lazy” symptoms as you point out? Should we outlaw them?

    And Big Pharma is not supporting the effort to legalize cannabis. Big Pharma has always been one of the biggest supporters of the Partnership for a Drug Free America and other groups who have crusaded against cannabis use for decades. I do not know who you are speaking with, but it is just not true. History shows differently….


  11. British Pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals, is testing a medication called Sativex made from marijuana that is high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in THC. Marijuana contains THC and CBD. THC is responsible for the psychoactive effect which gives people a high. Pharmaceutical companies are working on making medications from marijuana that have all of the benefits and none of the psychoactive effects.

    Sativex is being prescribed to alleviate pain due to cancer and multiple sclerosis.

    If we can made medications that help people and not have any psychoactive effects, we will have eliminated the need to get high. You can't get high off of Sativex. The people who use marijuana for fun, will do anything to hide the fact that we can make marijuana drugs that don't give a high. They oppose pharmaceutical companies making safe medications that do not get people high. This proves that many people are simply using medical marijuana as an excuse to get high. They will refuse Sativex and stick to smoking pot even when a safe non-psychoactive medication comes out.

    Once Sativex is approved for use in the U.S., we will truly see the motives of why people want to smoke pot.


  12. UM…Sativex is extremely psychoactive. You have the wrong medicine. And Marinol is also very psychoactive to a point of being lethargic. Sorry. The argument does not fly. Anything containing THC will be,. The fact is that cannabis is it natural form has dozens of cannabinoids that have yet to be studied for their effect but I can tell you that every major health organization believes natural cannabis has medical value far greater than Sativex or Marinol. http://medcaninfo.blogspot.com/2009/08/medical-cannabis-endorsements-safe.html


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s