LA Sheriff Pledges to Bust People for Pot Even If Marijuana Is Legalized in California
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Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said on Friday that the voters don’t matter. His deputies’ enforcement of marijuana laws would not change even if voters approved Proposition 19, which would legalize cannabis in California, on November 2, according to the Sheriff.
“Proposition 19 is not going to pass, even if it passes,” Baca said in a news conference Friday at sheriff’s headquarters in Monterey Park, reports Robert Faturechi in The Los Angeles Times.
The department run by Sheriff Baca polices 75 percent of Los Angeles County. His staunch opposition to marijuana -- even if it is legalized -- was echoed Friday by an announcement from Attorney General Eric Holder that federal officials would continue to “vigorously enforce” cannabis laws in California, even if state voters pass the measure.
Baca, who is sworn to uphold California state law, claimed Prop 19 was superseded by federal law and if passed, would be found unconstitutional.
Standing onstage with other prominent opponents of marijuana legalization, including Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, Sheriff Baca colorfully assailed marijuana use, users and sales.
Asked if he had ever experimented with pot, Baca left no room for doubt. “Hell, no,” he said.
Baca claimed legalizing cannabis would have far-reaching effects, including increasing the costs of drug rehabilitation (although most people in rehab for marijuana have been forced there by court order), causing traffic accidents (although marijuana is not a significant factor in auto wrecks), prompting labor disputes with employees getting high on the job (although Prop 19 gives employers the right “to address consumption that actually impairs job performance“), and providing a safe cover for drug cartels selling hard drugs.
California’s laws for pot smokers are already lenient enough, Baca claimed.
“If you a need for an ounce or less… then use your marijuana, but use it privately,” Baca said. “If you want to do a joint in your house, do it. Leave the rest of us alone.”
Baca claimed personal users smoking at home were already a non-priority for police agencies, including the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. His department does target pot dealers, he said.
The sheriff came out against Prop 19 early on, joining with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to try to prevent its passage.
Polls have shown California voters are almost evenly split on legalization.
Incredibly, Baca claimed on Friday that local law enforcement agencies -- which, again, are sworn to uphold state laws -- should abide by federal drug laws prohibiting marijuana, even if Prop 19 passes.
“[Prop] 19 has no effect on what we’re going to do,” Baca said.