Supporters Hope Amendment 64, Colorado’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, Might Increase Safety, Increase Community Trust in Police

Today two national police
groups, Blacks in Law Enforcement of America and the National
Latino Officers Association endorsed
Colorado’s November ballot initiative, Amendment 64, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana
Like Alcohol
; joining them are numerous other
cops, clergy, judges, politicians,
and other seemingly
straight-laced folks
 including the NAACP. (Oddly
enough, the Colorado Education Association recently came out
in opposition
to legalization

Amendment 64 is one of three full-legalization pushes for the
2012 election.
Washington state
will also offer initiatives. Colorado’s,
however, might have the biggest reasons for optimism. Recently
The Denver Post reported that support for
Amendment 64 has passed 50 percent and is gaining.

Today Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) hosted a
conference call with LEAP Executive Director Lt. Neil Franklin, a
34-year veteran of the Baltimore Police department andTony Ryan, a
36-year veteran of the Denver Police Department, now on LEAP’s
board, along with Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol
advocacy director Betty Aldworth. 

Aldworth mentioned that marijuana prohibition leads to the
arrest of “about 10 thousand Coloradoans each year, nearly 95
percent for simple possession,” and Amendment 64 is looking to turn
that around. It would also bring Colorado an
estimated $60 million in revenue and savings
, according to the
Colorado Center on Law and Policy. Ryan talked about his 36 years
on the Denver force, mostly on street patrol. “Where marijuana is
concerned, the only calls I remember getting for marijuana was
because someone was mad at someone and wanted to turn them in for
using it,” he said. ““Far as I can see, people who use marijuana
don’t cause any problems.”

Franklin read statements said earlier today from representatives
of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America and the National Latino
Officers Association.  Blacks in Law Enforcement of America’s
Ron Hampton, said:

“Keeping these outdated prohibition laws on the books
accomplishes nothing to reduce marijuana use, but it does cause
incredible damage to our communities of color. Even though African
Americans use marijuana at a rate virtually identical to that of
whites, people from our community are arrested, sentenced and
jailed at a much higher rate. Passing Amendment 64, while it won’t
solve all our problems, is a great step toward ensuring equality
for all under the law.”

The statement from the National Latino Officers Association
included a hope for increased cooperation between law enforcement
and communities, which Franklin echoed later. NLOA’s Anthony
Miranda said: 

“Right now, communities of color see the police as aggressors
rather than as protectors. People are unwilling to come to us, to
give us information, even to report crimes, because they see us as
the enemy. When Amendment 64 passes, we’ll be one step closer to
rebuilding that community trust that allows us to effectively
perform our jobs.”

When Reason asked about how Amendment 64 might increase
officer and citizen safety, Franklin dropped many topics familiar
to regular readers. He also reiterated that the drug war has
seriously decreased trust in law enforcement and perhaps for good
reason, saying:

“Police are not well respected, and when police are not well
respected, you have many opportunities for conflicts
between citizens and police. Citizens do not trust police, they do
not give them information. In Baltimore they had things like stop
snitching campaigns. when we don’t have citizens working with
police to get violent criminals off the steet…”

He also mentioned cartels and the violent criminals involved in
drug trades. Franklin went on to say that another area where safety
will be improved by legalization:

“These dynamic SWAT raids we use on a regular basis, they are
very, very dangerous….” “People are getting hurt, innocent people
are getting hurt. We are conducting raids on the wrong homes. Even
in homes where there might be some illicit activity, marijuana,
there is no violence…yet the raid itself is an act of

When asked what backers of Amendment 64 anticipated the Federal
response might be if they were successful in November, Aldworth

“We anticipate that when Colorado passes amendment 64, the
federal government will work with us. The DEA has never made it its
business to prosecute or investigate individuals for simple
possession of marijuana. We don’t expect that DEA priorities
will be shifted.”

When pressed as to whether the DEA and/or Department of Justice
might go after growers or retailers of marijuana, Aldworth
mentioned the 10th amendment, and with some hesitation said “I hope
that the federal government finds themselves in a position where
they want to work with us on that.”

Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie interviewed Franklin back in July