Sunday, July 25, 2010

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Legalize pot, former San Jose police chief says California voters have a chance on this November's ballot to bring common sense to law enforcement by legalizing marijuana for adults. As San Jose's retired chief of police and a cop with 35 years experience on the front lines in the war on marijuana, I'm voting yes. I've seen the prohibition's terrible impact at close range. Like an increasing number of law enforcers, I have learned that most bad things about marijuana - especially the violence made inevitable by an obscenely profitable black market - are caused by the prohibition, not by the plant. Legal marijuana is long overdue, but leading up to November, wrongheaded opponents will implore Californians with the same old mistaken arguments to stay the course. Prohibition advocates will promote fear, and they will ignore the vast bulk of law enforcement and medical experience on marijuana. People should not be fooled by cannabis opponents' appeal to prejudices and emotions when they argue: -- Regulating cannabis will result in an explosion of use by young people. On the contrary, pot smoking may decrease. Experience and research show that the United States has among the world's harshest marijuana laws, yet our consumption rate leads the world and is twice that of the Netherlands, where cannabis sales to adults have been allowed for decades. Prohibition doesn't keep marijuana away from young people. Annual U.S. government surveys consistently show that more than 80 percent of teenagers say that marijuana is "easy" or "very easy" to obtain. In a recent study from Columbia University, teenagers said it is easier to get illegal marijuana than age-regulated alcohol. Under today's laws, pot-dealing criminals getting rich on marijuana Prohibition don't ask for ID, but licensed dealers selling alcohol do. -- Legalizing marijuana will just add one more harmful legal substance to the mix. Marijuana is...