Retired Denver Police Lieutenant Tony Ryan served Colorado residents for 36 years, during which time he was shot in the line of duty, responded to the massacre at Columbine, and won numerous awards for his service. Yet because Ryan spoke yesterday in favor of Amendment 64, the Colorado ballot initiative to legalize marijuana, the amendment's leading opponent had the gall to call Ryan a "pro-pot rent-a-cop" in a press release.
A 36-year veteran of the Denver Police Department, Ryan was joined at the Denver City and County Building get-together by fellow members of the national organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), among others. A statement from him released afterward offers a good sense of his sentiments. It reads: "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."
Afterward, Roger Sherman, campaign director for Smart Colorado, the No on 64 organization, released comments of his own. They begin: "Today's endorsement by two out-of-state law enforcement organizations and a pro-pot rent-a-cop pales in comparison to the dozens of county sheriffs, chiefs of police, district attorneys and school resource officers that are publically opposed to Amendment 64."
Sherman's attack on Ryan and the other members of LEAP is disgusting on its face, but the charge of "out-of-state" influence is downright laughable: Sherman's organization, Smart Colorado, is being bankrolled to the tune of $150,000 by a Florida-based drug war profiteer named Mel Sembler.