A growing number of Southern California law enforcement organizations and leaders are voicing objections to a state ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana, saying it would make the state less safe.
“I’m vehemently opposed to it,” Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said. “I think that it would be a terrible move for California to make.”
San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos said the initiative to legalize marijuana “will do nothing to curb black market activity in California.” He is one of several police officials who are actively opposing the measure, a group that includes Riverside Deputy Sheriffs Association, the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the California Police Chiefs Association.
Law enforcement remains one of the most influential voices when it comes to debating issues such as marijuana legalization, according to Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. And their credibility doesn’t seem to have declined, he said, despite recent controversies surrounding the relationship of police and community.
But marijuana legalization advocates have so far collected 40 times more campaign cash than opponents. And with fewer Republican leaders in California who can help raise money for causes backed by men and women in blue, Schnur wonders if law enforcement’s anti-pot megaphone will be big enough to be heard by voters.
“Unless the opposition is able to identify a very generous funding source, it’s difficult to see how they get their message out in a way that allows them to move public opinion,” he said.
Proposition 64 would allow Californians 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow as many as six plants. The measure would prohibit driving while impaired, giving cannabis to minors or consuming it in public. It also includes provisions for licensing, testing, labeling,