The Coalition to Regulation Marijuana Like Alcohol was joined by retired law enforcement officers from across the state today to announce Law Enforcement Action Partnership’s (LEAP) endorsement of Proposal 1. LEAP is a national organization of current and retired law enforcement professionals who support drug policy and criminal justice reform.
“It’s time to end the misguided policy of marijuana prohibition,” said LEAP Executive Director Neil Franklin, a 34-year veteran of both the Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department. “When you legalize and regulate marijuana, you can refocus law enforcement energy and resources toward violent crime and other issues impacting the community.”
Franklin was joined in the announcement by Sen. Vincent Gregory, who retired from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department; retired Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Ted Nelson; Steve Miller, who retired from the Canton Police Department after an 18 year career; retired Bath Township police officer Howard Woolridge who spent more than 30 years in law enforcement; and Margeaux Bruner who serves on the State of Michigan Impaired Driving Safety Commission.
Each of the law enforcement officers discussed how the racial disparity of arrests for marijuana possession harm law enforcement’s ability to do their jobs. African Americans in Michigan are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.
“I stand with many others in law enforcement who have been tasked with enforcing marijuana prohibition when I offer my support for the drug’s responsible regulation,” said Nelson. “Hassling people over small amounts of marijuana is not a reasonable or effective component of crime reduction strategies or community-building efforts. We already know from other states that responsible marijuana regulations keep people out of the justice system who don’t need to be there and take money out of the hands of criminal organizations. The longer we wait, the more we sacrifice public safety and waste resources.”
A recent study by researchers at Washington State University indicated that police in Washington and Colorado have been more effective than their peers in states without legalization. The report points out that arrest rates have been cut in half in Washington and Colorado and that clearance rates for violent crimes, burglary and motor vehicle theft have all improved.