(Disclosure: I am a proponent of Amendment 64)
The initiative on this year’s ballot to regulate marijuana like alcohol, Amendment 64, received endorsements today from two major police organizations – the National Latino Officers Association and Blacks in Law Enforcement of America – and Colorado State Public Defender Doug Wilson, who heads “the state’s largest law firm,” with 400+ lawyers in 21 offices across the state.
A group of cops and prosecutors joined the campaign at a news conference today to announce the endorsements and release a letter in support of the initiative signed by several former Colorado law enforcement officials. Among them were a former Denver Police lieutenant., a former Colorado assistant attorney general, a former deputy district attorney from Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District, a former Lafayette municipal judge, and a former Colorado deputy town marshal and detention officer.
In a statement, Lt. Tony Ryan (Ret.), a 36-year veteran of the Denver Police Dept., said:
Law enforcement officers know better than anyone that keeping marijuana illegal and unregulated means the gangs and cartels that control the illegal trade win, and the rest of us lose. Our current marijuana laws distract police officers from doing the job we signed up for – protecting the public by stopping and solving serious crimes. They also put us at risk by forcing us to deal with an underground marijuana market made up of gangsters, cartels, and other criminals.”
Statements from a former Denver deputy district attorney, the National Latino Officers Association, and Blacks in Law Enforcement of America after the jump.
Statement from Titus Peterson, former Deputy District Attorney for Colorado’s Fifth Judicial District:
In Colorado, virtually every single person who is arrested for a marijuana-related offense must appear in court. That means they must take time away from their jobs and their families. They must take time away from the prosecutors, who could be handling far more serious cases. They must take time away from judges and court staff, and oftentimes from those fulfilling their civic duty of serving on a jury. It is difficult for active prosecutors to be outspoken in support of ending marijuana prohibition, but I have no doubt many of them agree that marijuana prohibition is wasteful and ineffective.
Statement from Blacks in Law Enforcement of America:
Keeping these outdated prohibition laws on the books accomplishes nothing to reduce marijuana use, but it does cause incredible damage to our communities of color. Even though African Americans use marijuana at a rate virtually identical to that of whites, people from our community are arrested, sentenced and jailed at a much higher rate. Passing Amendment 64, while it won’t solve all our problems, is a great step toward ensuring equality for all under the law.
Statement from National Latino Officers Association:
Right now, communities of color see the police as aggressors rather than as protectors. People are unwilling to come to us, to give us information, even to report crimes, because they see us as the enemy. When Amendment 64 passes, we’ll be one step closer to rebuilding that community trust that allows us to effectively perform our jobs.