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Richard Nixon's Vengeful War on Marijuana

President Nixon saw it as a way to hit back against pot-smoking Vietnam protesters, and presidents since have feared being smeared as "soft on drugs."

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-Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired.

The California Legislative Analyst and the Director of Finance estimate there will be savings of up to several tens of millions of dollars annually to state and local governments on the costs of incarcerating and supervising certain marijuana offenders.

In addition, there are unknown, but potentially major tax, fee, and benefit assessment revenues to state and local government related to the production and sale of marijuana products.

A Personal Perspective

In 1972, during the same year of the Shafer Commission, I was a sergeant of police in Los Angeles and had just completed a two-year assignment to write and obtain approval of the Department's Policy Manual, which defined the principles and philosophy of policing in the city.

I was also attending law school and I was "loaned" to the staff of the Police Task Force of President Nixon's National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, where I was privileged to draft the introductory chapters defining the role of the police in America.

Following graduation the next year and passing the state bar examination, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for the Justice Department's Law Enforcement Assistance Administration to implement national criminal justice standards and goals.

As a result of these initiatives, the quality of policing in America has been vastly improved over the years, and today, law enforcement is a profession which I am proud to have been a part of.

Several times I had to fight for my life while enforcing the law, and three of my law enforcement friends were murdered in the line of duty. I am not naive. I have walked through too much blood and have seen too much pain and suffering during my career.

Everything I have learned during almost 50 years in the justice system compels a conclusion that the criminalization of marijuana was a fraud on the American people from the very inception of the war on drugs.

I am not alone in this conclusion, which has been joined by a large number of active and retired law enforcement officials and judges in the United States and other countries.

Every voter has a duty to honestly consider the issues presented by Proposition 19 and vote as though one of his or her children, a niece or nephew, or a friend's child will be caught experimenting with marijuana in the future.

How will you want the matter handled? By creating a criminal, or by using the occasion as an educational opportunity?

We should remember the danger to society caused by the prohibition of alcohol, the way it gave rise to an organized crime subculture that spread violence and corruption. We also have seen how education and reasonable regulation has substantially reduced the use of tobacco in our society.

Let us rely on the true facts, our experience, our best judgment, and our consciences, instead of our prejudices or the misleading myths that continue to be perpetuated by our government. It is time to end the fraudulent war on marijuana.

William John Cox is a retired prosecutor and public interest lawyer, author and political activist. His efforts to promote a peaceful political evolution can be found at VotersEvolt.com, his writings are collected at WilliamJohnCox.com and he can be contacted at u2cox@msn.com.

 
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