New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a plan to legalize recreational marijuana. But to New York cops, the idea is rotten. After all, how will they justify arresting peaceful men and women going about their lives if marijuana is all of a sudden legal?
According to Cuomo’s plan, the goal is to create different licenses for marijuana growers, distributors, and sellers, impose a hefty 20 percent state tax on the product, and then wipe the record of those previously convicted of possessing the substance clean. In response, the New York state association of police unions issued a statement through its head, Michael Palladino, saying it unanimously opposes Cuomo’s vision.
“We wanted to be on the record that we oppose it because it’s an act of total irresponsibility,” he said. Adding that Cuomo “and lawmakers are trading public safety for a money grab to plug a budget deficit arising from mismanagement of taxpayer funds. Jeopardizing the public’s safety is not something cops support.”
While it’s true that taxing the product will bring in a great deal of revenue, it’s highly doubtful that these public unions are concerned about the taxpayer. What may be truly bothering them is that legalized recreational pot will make the police force less relevant. After all, the NYPD is already quite unpopular. And as the city sees another wave of record-low crime rates, legalizing pot could add to the peace and quiet and force government officials to think real hard about slashing law enforcement funds. After all, New York is losing money, and fast. If there’s less crime, they might even consider sending some officers packing.
If there are fewer officers in the force, who’s gonna pay union dues?
The Drug War Creates Violence
The decades of federal and local war on drugs created an environment that makes for dangerous drugs. That’s because black markets don’t work as free markets, where producers and distributors have an incentive to produce quality items that won’t kill their customers.
When drug consumption and sale are both illegal, users don’t know where their drugs come from, how pure they are, or whether they have been mixed with different substances that may make them more dangerous. And when drug producers and distributors are hunted down by law enforcers, they also lack the incentive to compete for customers. Instead, they have more reasons to, quite literally, hunt down their own competitors than try to gain more customers by selling better, safer drugs. Needless to say, this dynamic creates violence and death.
Despite the utter failure of government’s war on drugs, some groups argue that keeping substances such as marijuana illegal is still better than the alternative, completely ignoring that the widespread inefficiency of law enforcement agencies makes these laws basically toothless.
As former Congressman Ron Paul explained in his farewell address, authorities are so inefficient that they can’t even keep drugs from entering prisons. How can we expect them to protect our communities from the dangers tied to the drug war in the big, wild world?
As states continue to join the nullification movement to render the federal government’s drug laws useless, it’s just a matter of time recreational marijuana becomes legal in more states. As such, police and their unions will continue to claim the move is detrimental to safety. But whenever they make that argument, remember: they are the ones who lose the most when we dismantle the drug war. Therefore their heart (and incentives) are in the wrong place.