Law Enforcement Support For California Cannabis Initiative Growing

Press Release September 9, 2010
Media Contact

Tom Angell at (202) 557-4979

(LOS ANGELES, CA) — A group of police officers, judges, and prosecutors who support Proposition 19, the California ballot measure to control and tax cannabis (marijuana), will hold a press conference Monday, September 13 at West Hollywood Park (672 N. Robertson Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069) to release a letter of endorsement signed by dozens of law enforcers across the state. A separate, simultaneous press event with other pro-Prop 19 law enforcers will take place at Oakland City Hall.

“I was with the LAPD when Nixon declared the ‘War on Drugs’ over 40 years ago and was one of the ‘generals’ on the front lines who helped implement that same failed drug policy that is still in effect today,” said Stephen Downing, a retired deputy chief of police with the LAPD who is now a speaker with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “During my career, I not only saw the ineffectiveness of our marijuana laws up close but also witnessed the harm our prohibition approach inflicts on public safety. By keeping marijuana illegal, we aren’t preventing anyone from using it. The only results are billions of tax-free dollars being funneled into the pockets of bloodthirsty drug cartels and gangs who control the illegal market.”

Former LAPD sergeant and Los Angeles County deputy district attorney William John Cox, added, “This November, Californians finally have a chance to flip the equation and put drug cartels out of business, while restoring public respect for the criminal laws and their enforcement by passing Proposition 19 to control and regulate marijuana.”

Also speaking at the L.A. press conference will be retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, former Torrance Police Department beat officer and drug identification expert Kyle Kazan, and others.

In the sign-on letter being released at the press conferences, dozens of law enforcers outline their reasons for supporting Proposition 19, detailing how it will:

* Put our police priorities where they belong, by ending the arrests of non-violent cannabis consumers, 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 at risk in the “drug war” line of fire
* 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

For journalists who can’t physically attend the press conferences, the Yes on 19 campaign will be holding a conference call featuring several anti-prohibition law enforcers on Monday at 12:30 PM PDT. The dial-in number is 800-311-9402 and the password is COPS19.

These law enforcement leaders join the National Black Police Association, the California NAACP, doctors, Latino community leaders, faith leaders, labor, business leaders, elected officials, political parties, and more, in endorsing Proposition 19. For a full list of endorsements, please visit:

Similar to current alcohol and tobacco laws, Proposition 19 will give state and local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of cannabis to adults age 21 and older. As the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), which provides non-partisan fiscal and policy advice, confirms, Prop 19 includes significant safeguards and controls: It maintains strict criminal penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana, increases the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibits the consumption of marijuana in public, forbids smoking marijuana while minors are present, and bans possession on school grounds., (Page 3)

California’s tax collector, the Board of Equalization (BOE), which currently collects alcohol and tobacco taxes, estimates that marijuana taxes could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year, available to fund law enforcement, healthcare, and other critical needs.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) also says Prop 19 would enable California to put our police priorities where they belong, in that it “could result in savings to the state and local governments by reducing the number of marijuana offenders incarcerated in state prisons and county jails, as well as the number placed under county probation or state parole supervision. These savings could reach several tens of millions of dollars annually. The county jail savings would be offset to the extent that jail beds no longer needed for marijuana offenders were used for other criminals who are now being released early because of a lack of jail space.” (Page 6)

Multiple polls show that a majority of California voters support Proposition 19.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.