Perils of pot prohibition


California's Proposition 19 would legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use while allowing local governments to authorize and regulate commercial production and distribution. reason asked former San Jose Police Chief Joseph D. McNamara, a 35-year police veteran who is now a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, for three reasons
why Californians should vote yes on
Prop. 19 in November.

1 Marijuana prohibition is counter-productive to the mission of the police. Good policing wins public trust so that people are willing to report crime, come forth as witnesses, and believe police testimony when they sit on juries. The confrontational policing endemic to marijuana enforcement results in volatile stop, search, and frisk situations that often escalate into controversial police use of force, alienating minority youths and communities. Busting pot smokers also diverts law enforcement resources from predatory criminals.

2 Marijuana prohibition boosts organized crime. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Mexican drug cartels obtain most of their revenue from the illegal marijuana market, which fosters violence and corruption.

3 Marijuana prohibition represents an extreme intrusion on individual rights. Our last three presidents used marijuana during their reckless days of youth but went on to successful careers because they were never busted. Millions of other Americans are not so lucky.