Local law enforcement officers: Vote 'no' on Amendment 64

We are law enforcement leaders in Moffat, Routt and Grand counties who want to express our concerns about Amendment 64, the effort to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado.

First, we are concerned about any steps that might increase use of marijuana among children. Studies indicate that increased availability and increased perceptions of acceptability will increase underage use of marijuana, which already accounts for 67 percent of teenage substance abuse treatment in America. The evidence also is compelling to us that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to use and abuse of even more dangerous drugs like heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Because of the permanent, lifelong debilitating effects of marijuana on young people, we are gravely troubled about Amendment 64’s potential long-term harm to our community’s youth.

Second, the argument that the government should tax marijuana like alcohol and tobacco and use those tax revenues to address the potential impacts totally overlooks how little tax revenue actually is collected compared to the social costs of alcohol and tobacco use. In the U.S., the estimates are that communities spend $185 billion to address alcohol use but collect only $14.5 billion in tax revenues, or less than 10 percent. Costs of tobacco use are estimated at $200 billion, yet we collect only $25 billion in tax revenues, or about 12 percent. Consequently, we are concerned about the increased costs our community will be asked to bear from legalized marijuana, such as increases in drug-impaired driving, on top of the social costs we already carry from alcohol and tobacco use.

Third, it has taken our state government several years to begin to regulate medical marijuana, and we are concerned that even now, enforcement resources for medical marijuana are insufficient. As a result, we are concerned that the time that it would take state authorities to build the structure to regulate a legalized marijuana industry will allow drug cartels and other criminal organizations to continue their penetration of that industry in Colorado. Significant evidence exists that these organizations use the medical marijuana umbrella to grow and ship marijuana to other states where it remains illegal. We are gravely concerned that Amendment 64 will open even further the opportunities for these illegal organizations to burrow into Colorado and use their bases here to expand illegal marijuana use across the country. We do not want marijuana to be what Colorado is best known for in America.

Some have argued that enforcement resources should not be directed to simple marijuana possession. We can assure you that our drug enforcement efforts focus on the most dangerous drugs in our communities — methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine — and not simple marijuana possession, which is a petty offense in Colorado.

As law enforcement leaders who have devoted their lives to the safety of our wonderful community in Northwest Colorado, we urge you to give careful consideration to Amendment 64. Ultimately, we ask you to vote “no” on Amendment 64.

■ Brett Barkey, 14th Judicial District Attorney

■ Routt County Sheriff Garrett Wiggins

■ Steamboat Springs Police Chief Joel Rae

■ Hayden Police Chief Gordon Booco

■ Oak Creek Police Department officers Ed Corriveau and Bobby Rauch

■ Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta

■ Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz

■ Grand County Sheriff Rodney Johnson

■ Granby Police Chief William Housley

Community comments

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(max huppert) maxinc says...

it might as well be legalized as damn near so easy to get anyway, whole thing is a joke. Oh my back my back. then you might be able to use food stamp card to get brownies.

Posted 3 November 2012, 8:38 p.m. Suggest removal

(mark hartless) markhartless says...

You guys make a far better case for the perils of alcohol and tobacco, and about the ineptitude of federal, state, and local government agencies, than for the continued prohibition of pot.

Saying, essentially, that "government agencies can't handle people" and "certain people can't handle certain freedoms", doesn't even BEGIN to make a case for why that inept government should continue to decide the legality of what I do in my living room.

I seriously appreciate you guys' dedication, but if something is a "petty offense" as you say, perhaps it's time to forget about it altogether.

Why keep a "petty offense" on the books at all, except as a way of "piling on" charges?
Or perhaps the fact that such a "petty offense" is still technically illegal makes it easier for law enforcement to circumvent otherwise more complex issues with warrants, phone-taps, vehicle searches, etc???
Does the presence of marijuana get your foot in the door, enabling you to legally look for "whatever"?

I imagine if "everything" was illegal in just a "petty" sense, that woulkd make law enforcement a sinch...

Sorry, but it's "high time" for this law and many others to go away.

Posted 3 November 2012, 10:51 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

Is alcohol legal because it is good? No, it is legal because prohibition failed to stop consumption, but created a huge source of revenues for organized crime.

Based upon health and societal impacts, mj is significantly less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. The prohibition of mj has fundamentally failed and it was commonly available before dispensaries. The prohibition of mj has been a huge source of money for gangs.

It has been well established that mj is not a gateway drug for users. MJ smuggling and dealing is well established gateway for expanding into other drugs.

It is well past time to officially stop fighting a lost war.

Posted 4 November 2012, 12:17 a.m. Suggest removal

(jerry carlton) jlc says...

Scott Wedel Are you still renting to the pot growers in Oak Creek?

Posted 4 November 2012, 7:02 a.m. Suggest removal

(Dan Hill) steamboatlion says...

Jerry Calton - that looks like a personal attack (I assume you are suggesting that Scott's position is motivated by a financial interest?), rather than an attempt to counter the arguments put forward by Scott and the others. In the absence of other evidence we are left to assume you take that path because you don't have an actual argument. If you do, how about we here that instead?

Posted 4 November 2012, 7:44 a.m. Suggest removal

(max huppert) maxinc says...

Scott is not renting to any Pot Growers. they are across the street from him.

Posted 4 November 2012, 8:23 a.m. Suggest removal

(Kriss Bergethon) krissbergethon says...

Buried in this Denver Post article, about an empty prison, is the fact that the state's prison population is shrinking. Seems too coincidental that prison population has declined as marijuana reform has taken hold. Does anyone really feel that the streets are more dangerous now? This should help you make your decision on Amendment 64:

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_219...

Posted 4 November 2012, 9:11 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

Media ploy; every cop I've talked to -- for many years -- has favored legalization, so they could concentrate on real crime (if not cease being criminals themselves).

Posted 4 November 2012, 9:38 a.m. Suggest removal

(Tyler Goodman) snowbdr2332 says...

Number one reason to decriminalize marijuana in the US: putting the Mexican drug cartels out of business.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democr...

Many have overlooked this part of the issue. Prohibition doesn't work when such a large part of society engages in the activity. We've heard these same three arguments from the law enforcement community before and frankly they just don't stand up anymore:

1. Chicken or the egg. Which comes first: drug seeking behavior or marijuana? Studies have also shown decriminalization decreases underage use. At least if it’s regulated we can implement underage use programs much the same as alcohol.

2. Societal costs are already there; why not collect a healthy amount of tax revenue to help decrease the costs to society.

3. This is 2012; I’m pretty sure we could erect an effective regulatory structure fairly quickly using alcohol and tobacco regulation as a framework (especially with all the tax revenue slated to come in). In fact, it would be an opportunity to have much more effective regulation than alcohol and tobacco. Medical Marijuana regulation is insufficient as the industry is this quasi-legal facade for recreational use. We need to either embrace recreational use or continue to wage a losing war of prohibition; not this halfway in, halfway out gimmick called medical marijuana.

However, addressing federal policy should be a first stop in addressing the issue rather than an amendment to our state’s constitution. As stated in the Pilot’s piece, it’s much harder for legislators and regulators to prefect regulation and taxation if it’s not in the revised statutes.

Posted 4 November 2012, 10:50 a.m. Suggest removal

(JJ Southard) DrGreenGenes says...

Good thing the majority never sides with cops.

Posted 5 November 2012, 5:47 a.m. Suggest removal

(Stephen Evans) captnse says...

what are cops supposed to say.
we made a mistake and arrested millions
of hard working citizen , used our tax dollars
to imprison family providers just for the possesion
of a flower. alcohol kills marijuana heals.

Posted 5 November 2012, 6:44 a.m. Suggest removal

(Ron Paul) RPF says...

The opinion of those who make a living off of arresting marijuana consumers does not have much merit.

These people have made a career out of locking people up over a simple plant. Law enforcement receives grants and federal funds in order to keep up their marijuana fight. Officers receive vehicles, upgrades and more staff due to this flawed drug war and as a result, people should take with a grain of salt the opinion of those who stand to profit by keeping marijuana illegal.

Close to 1,000,000 people are arrested yearly due to marijuana offences and more than 11,000 of those happen within the borders of Colorado.

We can not afford to maintain the status quo. It's time to end this senseless war against otherwise law-abiding citizens.

Posted 5 November 2012, 8:49 a.m. Suggest removal

(rhys jones) highwaystar says...

I love my country, but I fear, hate, and distrust my Government -- which is, after all, merely a puppet of the Rothschild's and the Bank of England, who dictate all -- which is why we make war on the whole world, including over half our own populace -- for profit, and because once the people start getting a little less drunk and telling themselves how good things are, and start discussing the true nature of reality in this age -- things will hopefully undergo a change for the better.

Posted 5 November 2012, 9:15 a.m. Suggest removal

(Harry Thompson) shocked says...

OH BOY..now you've done it you stirred up the highwaystar.

Posted 6 November 2012, 1:15 p.m. Suggest removal

(Bob Smith) bsmith_steamboat says...

"And despite local law enforcement unified opposition..." I’m not so sure Scott. Of course you’ve got Garrett Wiggins and his clique, which are obviously opposed to 64, but for the majority of other officers on the force, I would beg to differ. The problem is that if an officer voices anything other than the Wiggins party line of NO WAY on the legalization issue, they are seriously jeopardizing their career. This is common throughout the greater law enforcement community. Mention anything that can be construed as pro-legalization, and forget about any kind of promotion or anything else – and be ready to be stigmatized in a very negative way. One-on-one, and most certainly off the record, I have found that many officers support legalization. It’s too bad that they – collectively and individually – have been intimidated into silence – and not just silence, but forced to support the NO WAY position. Job security, plain and simple.

Posted 7 November 2012, 12:06 p.m. Suggest removal

(bill schurman) expublicdefender says...

The people have spoken.

Posted 10 November 2012, 2:45 p.m. Suggest removal

(Stan Zuber) Stosh says...

Posted 11 November 2012, 6:35 a.m. Suggest removal

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