Columbia, Missouri Police Chief on Board With Legalizing Marijuana?


I've been fairly hard on Columbia, Missouri Police Chief Ken Burton since video emerged of his department's SWAT raid on a marijuana offender. But to be fair, though the reforms he proposed missed the most important point—the misapplication of force in using SWAT raids on people suspected of nonviolent crimes—he has at least shown more concern than other police officials in similar situations. And I suspect even the reforms he did propose weren't popular within his department.

The video below, courtesy of the Marijuana Policy Project blog, shows Burton may be coming around on the foolishness of marijuana prohibition in general.

Money quote:

"I applaud your efforts," he told a reporter who asked about campaigns to change marijuana laws. "If we could get out of the business [of going after marijuana offenders], I think there would be a lot of police officers that would be happy to do that."

Last week, Burton announced that all of his officers involved in the now-infamously YouTubed marijuana raid have been cleared of any wrongdoing. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, that's to be expected. The raid was routine, and consistent with the law, not just in Columbia but in much of the country. It's the law that's the problem.

The MPP blog also points to an interesting quote by D.C. Metro PD Assistant Chief Peter Newsham that's not quite as explicit, but seems to acknowledge that the only dangerous elements to marijuana are due to it being illegal.