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Monday, May 2, 2016

Marijuana initiative 'won't lighten workload' for area law enforcement

Saturday, November 26, 2011

With an effort under way in Missouri to legalize marijuana, area law enforcement officials say the move, if approved, is not likely to open jail cells.

"Very seldom do we make just a marijuana arrest," Thayer Police Chief David Bailey said Nov. 18.

Instead, when a suspect lands in the Thayer City Jail on marijuana possession charges, they usually have committed other crimes, or the marijuana was discovered during a traffic stop, Bailey said.

On Nov. 7, the secretary of state's office approved two initiative petitions for circulation, one to amend the Missouri Constitution and the other to enact a state law to legalize cannabis for people age 21 and older. If enough signatures are garnered, the issue could be on the November 2012 ballot.

Both petition requests were submitted by Columbia attorney Dan Viets, who was quoted in an online news story as saying it is "insane to put otherwise law-abiding people in jail for using, growing or selling marijuana. The pot smokers tend to not bother anybody."

The petitions also ask that doctors be allowed to recommend use of medicinal marijuana, that prisoners convicted of nonviolent offenses related to cannabis be released and that the state be allowed to enact a marijuana tax of up to $100 per pound.

According to an online CNN Money article, Missouri could potentially collect $15,600,000 in tax revenue per year if marijuana was legalized and taxed. So far, 14 states have decriminalized cannabis and 17, including Washington, D.C., have medicinal marijuana programs.

In June, a bill to fully legalize marijuana was introduced in the U.S. House by Republican Ron Paul of Texas and Democrat Barney Frank of Massachusetts to remove cannabis from the controlled substance list.

Some legislators have said prohibition just does not work, with the federal government spending $14 billion annually to prohibit marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project on Capitol Hill.

Oregon County Chief Deputy Eric King, who was part of a successful local effort last month to track down the grower of several marijuana plants in Rover, agreed with Bailey that most marijuana offenders are in jail for additional crimes.

One exception is during summer when vacationers take to the Eleven Point River. County deputies patrolling the river have cited suspects for marijuana possession alone, he said.

"We usually write several tickets on the Eleven Point," King said.

From 1999-2002, the county has averaged 65 drug arrests each summer. Some of those arrests involved other crimes, but not all.

If the law is changed to legalize marijuana, area jails could free up some jail space, which has been a concern for Thayer and the county. Two years ago, Thayer voters approved a law enforcement tax proposed, in part, to eventually build a new jail. No plans are in the works to build one.

Oregon County Sheriff George Underwood said he is considering a similar sales tax issue for the county. The six-bed county jail is currently housed on the third floor of the 75-year-old courthouse in Alton.

King said his biggest concerns with the proposed legislation center on marijuana users driving impaired and those under age using the drug.

Before the issue can be placed on the ballot, signatures of registered voters equal to 8 percent of votes cast in the 2008 governor's election from six of the state's nine congressional districts must be obtained. Signed petitions are due to the Secretary of State's office by May 6, 2012.

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I don't know if law enforcement authorities in Thayer are more lenient than in the rest of the state, but there were over 23,000 marijuana arrests in Missouri in 2007 alone (couldn't find more recent data).

Given that this is the largest single category of arrests, it seems that eliminating it would have to free up a fair amount of time for the police, courts, and most importantly, the citizens who would otherwise be suffering the consequences of arrest and prosecution.

MO Marijuana arrest data here:


-- Posted by pfroehlich2004 on Sat, Nov 26, 2011, at 2:06 AM

When defending their dangerous and counter-productive war on (some) drugs Prohibitio­nists often cite our obligation to 'The Children', but prohibition­ has made all of these 'at present illegal' substances available in schools and even prisons. So how has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has also raised gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootleggin­g. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has creating a prison-for­-profit synergy with evil drug lords and terrorists. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has removed many of our cherished and important civil liberties. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has put many previously unknown and contaminate­d drugs on our streets. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has escalating Murder, Theft, Muggings and Burglaries­. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has overcrowd­ing the courts and prisons, thus making it increasing­ly impossible to curtail the people who are really hurting and terrorizing­ others. How has that helped our kids?

Prohibition­ has evolved local street gangs into transnatio­nal enterprise­s with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling­ vast swaths of territory and with significant social and military resources at their disposal. How has that helped our kids?

-- Posted by malcolmkyle on Sat, Nov 26, 2011, at 9:45 AM

You are right Malcolm. Kids have reported on the SAMSHA government survey for the last ten years or so that marijuana is easier to get than alcohol or tobacco. Regulation does appear to work better than our current system that allows marijuana to be sold to others without having to show ID. Currently the Mexican cartels are active throughout our country. They control a multibillion dollar industry that manufactures, distributes, and sells drugs. Although in Mexico they have been regularly taking out heads of a number of the cartels what is striking is that no one other than drug couriers seems to have been apprehended here. They do catch a few people entering Mexico with too much money but the seizures are not what you would imagine for a multibillion dollar industry. The money being made by the cartels does not just vanish. The only possible explanation is to assume that large amounts of money are being laundered here through our banking system. When you have a prohibitionist system, however, it is not possible to say for sure where the money is going. A regulated system would provide for above board examination of finances as can be done with other businesses and makes things like taxation and quality control possible.

Legalization and regulation would insure that those who would benefit from this incredible natural herbal medicine would be able to obtain it without having to deal with drug dealers. It would silence those barbaric and inhumane officials that seek to keep this non toxic medication from others.

-- Posted by Dave K on Sat, Nov 26, 2011, at 5:11 PM

Well if they never punish people for cannabis there's no reason to keep it illegal, now is there?

-- Posted by Duncan20903 on Sat, Nov 26, 2011, at 10:58 PM

I don't have a dog in this fight but I note Dave K leads to some reasonable conclusions - but note two sentences, "Currently the Mexican cartels are active throughout our country. They control a multibillion dollar industry that manufactures, distributes, and sells drugs."

That last word is plural. But it is admittedly, marijuana that is the cartels' most lucrative business - for now. Pages 6-12 of the following report for a single regional trafficking hub (Juarez-El Paso) are illuminating:


Of course there are many such 'hubs' along the four bordering US states so I'll limit to the two primary geographic ends. Now, a recent discovery (and seizure) of a tunnel connecting San Diego with Tijuana [6th such during the past four years]


In the text of the topmost link there's a reference to a bombing in Monterrey Mexico - a so-called [V]IED. Here's a STRATFOR analysis of that event:


Perhaps most disturbing to consider in the Monterrey incident is this:


It "might" well be time to decriminalize marijuana but reasonable people can disagree without being disagreeable. Personally, I guess since I've posted here, I should give a position. 60/40% in favor of decriminalization.

Caveat - my 'for' is primarily based on our nation's wider economic situation. I am not in favor of going Portugal's route. However I was around when the War On Drugs was declared (1971) and we have about as much chance of "victory" as we're likely to get in Afghanistan.


-- Posted by HDucker on Sun, Nov 27, 2011, at 10:58 AM

Seems to be never-ending.


-- Posted by HDucker on Wed, Nov 30, 2011, at 1:35 PM

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