Law Enforcement Divided Over California Pot Legalization


California’s Nov. 2 vote on legalizing pot is drawing law-enforcement officials to both sides of the issue, says USA Today. Proposition 19 would make marijuana legal for recreational use by those 21 and older, though possession would still be a federal violation. Local law-enforcement leaders, including Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and the California Police Chiefs Association, oppose the measure. So does Obama administration drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, joined by his predecessors under three previous presidents.

Supporters of Prop 19 have some law officers on their side. Former Seattle Police chief Norm Stamper argued for passage, saying current laws don’t make marijuana less available but have made the trade profitable for Mexican drug cartels. “This is really a law and order initiative,” Oakland City Attorney John Russo said in endorsing Prop 19. “Arresting and criminalizing tens of thousands of Californians every year for misdemeanor possession diverts police [] from arresting and convicting violent criminals.”

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