Jerry Brown’s sad sell out to the prohibition industry.

Jerry Brown, pawn of the prohibition bureaucrats.

Jerry Brown, pawn of the prohibition bureaucrats.

I have been on the side of law enforcement for a long time, and you can be sure that we will be together on this November ballot,” said the once and future governor Jeffy Brown. He was referring to his anticipated NO vote on California’s bid to end the state’s legal prohibition of the use and possession of marijuana. More correctly he should have said, “I have been on the pay of the California prison guards union for a long time, and you can be sure that I will do as they tell me to do on this November ballot.”

Being “on side of law enforcement” means to Jerry Brown fully signing on to the prohibition industry’s tax-paid jackpot of police, prosecution, and prison personnel benefits and perks. Brown, and most other California politicians, including current governor Schwarzenegger, never fail to vote, legislate and decide in ways favorable to the California lobby heavy weight, the California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association. Benefiting enormously from drug war, the prison guard’s association has grown explosively in membership, pay, benefits, pensions and political power. The tens of thousands of California prison guards suckle at the public teat some of the most generous benefits of any public employees. The guards and their union lobby relentlessly to maintain the draconian drug laws that turn so many Californians into prisoners, the raw material of the prison industry.

As Mary O’Grady wrote in the Wall Street Journal Online last week, “The drug-warrior industry, which includes both the private-sector and a massive government bureaucracy devoted to “enforcement,” has an enormous economic incentive to keep the war raging.”

Another aspect of this California bureaucracy is CAMP, California Against Marijuana Planting, a cartel of 110 law enforcement agencies, the country’s largest law enforcement task force. Bizarrely, as California Attorney General, Brown yearly leads this army on its Sisyphean uprooting of cannabis plants. Huge amounts of expensive but useless effort are wasted in this gigantic public works undertaking.

Every years for a quarter century CAMP destroyed ever more plants. Simultaneously, the price of marijuana increased yearly until it was worth more than its weight in gold. Essentially, CAMP has been price-fixing (one of the definitions of cartel) marijuana while simultaneously doing huge collateral damage to the lives of Californians and the financial stability of the state.

The price of cannabis has dropped recently in California, from fear that legalization will reduce the need for illegal, price-fixed CAMP era cannabis.

California’s next governor will inherit a financial quagmire. Both Republican candidates have taken tired, predictable, just-say-no stances on ending cannabis prohibition. So California’s next governor, be it Jerry Brown or  Republicans Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner, has already precluded looking at the huge income that would be generated by the cannabis tax.

Hopefully, Californians will this fall vote to end cannabis prohibition and persecution with a higher percentage than they give to whichever of the candidates wins the governorship. Then, whether he or she likes it or not, the new governor will have a huge new revenue source and mammoth reduction in costs of marijuana prosecution, policing and imprisonment.

In the mean time, Jerry Brown should hang his head in shame.  From his own personal experience, he knows cannabis is not evil, that it is far safer than alcohol and that no one should go to jail for using or possessing the plant. Yet he chooses to align himself, for political power, with the regressive, expensive and self-damaging war on cannabis.

Dispensary closures are bureaucratic anti-business blunders.

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Los Angeles recently ordered closed all but 70 medical cannabis clinics. Upwards of 1,000 medical cannabis dispensaries had filled storefronts and opened in malls across the county, a flurry of business activity in these times of recession.

Although these clinics did not in any way contribute to crime and provided legal access to their medicine by state legal medical consumers, dispensaries ran afoul of the special interests of police, prosecutors and prisons. A cadre of tax-paid parasites has apparently succeeded in most of goal of getting dispensaries closed, and resuming the arrest-prosecute-imprison regimen that has so boosted their careers and pensions.

California is in recession and is totally broke, in desperate need of every job and tax dollar. And yet in this environment, tax-paid bureaucrats like city attorneys are making policy that severely restricts closes down storefronts, puts working people into unemployment lines and ends a lucrative sales tax revenue stream. Go figure.

Most dispensaries will close; the 70 or so remaining will be relegated to “industrial areas” and must be farm from schools and churches. While this may serve as an economic stimulus to the industrial areas, such restrictions present difficulties to medical users in getting their medicine. Such harassing zoning also creates additional car trips and increases carbon footprint. Does LA really need more cars on its roads? Why should medical cannabis consumers have to drive to a remote area instead of picking up their medicine by walking to the corner dispensary operated by their neighbor?

Whether LA needed nearly 1,000 dispensaries is unclear. As in normal competition, the number would probably sort itself out through the law of supply and demand, consumer choice and the management of the dispensaries. What is clear is the the proliferation of dispensaries hurt or injured no one and caused no increase in crime. Indeed, the crime rate in LA Country was at historic lows as the clinics grew. The only cost or injury was the giant crack in the wall of marijuana prohibition the clinics represent. The stakeholders in the present system of arrest-prosecute-imprison include police, prosecutors, prison guards, narcotics officers, and urine testers. Other winners in this harm-maximization prohibitionist policy include dug dealers, street gangs, Mexican cartels and various other criminals.

The clinic closures come just months after bureaucrats profiting from marijuana prohibition planned their demise. The group sponsoring the action to subvert the will of California voters was the California Narcotics Officer’s Association. Obviously the drug war has been very good for narcotics officers as law enforcement has become mainly drug enforcement. Consider the career of New York City narcotics officer Bernard Kerik. He rode from obscurity on his narcotic’s cop cred to appointment by Rudolph Giuliani as New York’s top cop.  He came just a few lies away from being appointed George W. Bush’s Chief of Homeland Security. That was shortly before being indicted and then convicted as a felon by the feds, and now serving 4 years in federal prison. The California Narcotics Officers seek to continue the hard line on marijuana prohibition that so expanded their own careers and pensions.

  • A good example of the benefit of harsh marijuana laws to law enforcement is CAMP, the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting. Astonishingly, CAMP’s own website brags: “With more than 110 agencies having participated, CAMP is the largest law enforcement task force in the United States.” It would seem that the largest law enforcement task force in the United States would have something better to do than persecute a harmless, medicinal plant. Perhaps this 110 agency task force should be investigating crimes of violence and crimes with victims rather than wasting their time and our money with military SWAT raids on hapless farmers. Any plants destroyed in this vast operation only serve as price stabilization for the cannabis crops they miss. As with all marijuana law enforcement, it is a waste of resources causing huge collateral damage without benefit to society, except to the job security of the enforcers.
  • The California prison guards union is one of the main groups sponsoring the continuation of repressive and draconian laws against cannabis. Union membership and benefits have grown explosively during the decades of the drug war. In 1980 the state imprisoned just 22,500 people and a prison guard’s salary was $14,400. Today the state imprisons 170,000 Californians, guarded by some of the best paid public employees in the state. Eligible to early retirements (at 75% of salary), the guards enjoy lush benefits and a bloated overtime system that pays many over $100,000 tax dollars per year. The union is one of the most powerful political groups in the state and effectively fights tooth and nail against any drug law reform that might result in fewer prisoners.

The California Narcotic’s Officers event was entitled “The Eradication of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.” As reported by Americans for Safe Access, both LA city attorney and Los Angeles District Attorney were in attendance at the event and soon afterward both began claiming dispensaries were illegal and working for their closure. Regrettably, they have succeeded in closing most of the dispensaries.

If city bureaucrats and the DA really wanted to improve the health of their city and its citizens by imposing business restrictions, they would clamp down on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes. Cannabis is far SAFER; unlike alcohol, it cannot cause death and does not cause violence or domestic abuse.

Most of the dwindling number of Americans who support more drug war are, paradoxically, supporters of private enterprise and supposedly abhor big government. Hopefully they will come to see that the drug war is a perversion of market-oriented free enterprise, a war against the law of supply and demand, destined to fail. The war on drugs is itself a bloated and parasitic expansion of big government run amuck. The specter of city attorneys and district attorneys interfering with the personal health care decisions of Los Angelenos is almost Stalinistic.