Pubdate: Fri, 30 Apr 2010
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Norm Stamper


As a former San Diego cop and police executive who presided over
marijuana law enforcement for three decades, I was intrigued by Thomas
Elias's attempt ("Legalized pot not a panacea," April 24) to show that
the problems surrounding our marijuana laws do "not constitute a
situation anything like (alcohol) Prohibition."

In trying to articulate substantial differences between marijuana and
alcohol prohibition, Elias dismisses obvious similarities - enormous
tax-free profits and the boon to organized crime, among others - that
are far more fundamental and relevant. His assertion that regulated
marijuana "could bring to California the kind of drug wars that now
plague Mexico and Colombia" is patently absurd. It flies in the face
of the American experience after the end of alcohol prohibition. And
it belies the contemporary experience of nations that have modernized
their marijuana laws and achieved healthier, safer

Many law enforcement professionals understand that prohibition is the
root cause of the most egregious social issues regarding marijuana.
America's experience with alcohol prohibition is in fact a powerful
reminder that no level of law enforcement will ever eradicate widely
popular behavior that generates gargantuan, untaxed profits. It is
time to divert those profits from drug cartels to legitimate channels,
including drug abuse prevention and treatment.

Norm Stamper

Eastsound, Wash.

Editor's note: Norm Stamper, a member of Law Enforcement Against 
Prohibition, was a San Diego police officer for 28 years and served 
as Seattle's chief of police from 1994-2000. He is the author of 
"Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing."
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