"Do You Want to Take a Hit, Officer?" – Why Legalizing Marijuana Would Benefit Law Enforcement Professionally and Personally

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To begin, I am a former Police Officer. I worked for the City of Savannah from 2011-2014 before resigning. I had abstained from drugs, besides alcohol, for most of my life. I even thought the smoking of Marijuana was a self-destructive and malicious drug which only lowered the person using it. But, my opinion shifted sometime in my second year as a cop.

I, like many other rookie cops, got zealous with my freedom of being on my own after training and wanted to make arrests because that’s what good cops did; to get the bad guys and put them behind bars. The easiest of these arrests were marijuana arrests, which I did many. As I got older and experienced, I saw that the arrests and the law itself were wrong. I was helping add weight to an overburden justice system for a drug which is significantly less harmful than alcohol according to Professor David J. Nutt’s research on Drugs in the UK. After years of no longer being a cop and also someone who now uses marijuana, I can say from both experience and perspective that the legalization of Marijuana would benefit police.

      First, the legalization of Marijuana would help create taxable revenue for municipalities which would be used to help pay for not only law enforcement but also education, city projects. There can even be a refund to residents such as what happened in Colorado in 2015 when they had an excess of $58 million. Also, the revenue made from licensing the industry from the farming to the distribution would also be additional taxable income for municipalities. The courts and jails would also receive alleviation from the unnecessary burden the criminalization of marijuana taxes on the criminal justice system. Yes, there will be individuals who will operate a vehicle while high or commit other crimes; but in my experience, the people who I arrested who were high were more cooperative and nearly docile compared to the people I arrested who were drunk.

      I have seen domestic abuse, drunk drivers hurting innocent people, and I have gotten into physical altercations due to the involvement of alcohol. I would honestly rather deal with anyone high than any drunk because of the violence associated with alcohol.

     As I watch the Attorney General attempt to go after marijuana again (and go against the will of the people who voted to legalize it in a democratic process), I feel as such he has not learned from history or knows anything about human nature. Whenever a government institution criminalizes a substance, a black market is instantly born with a prime example being prohibition. Alcohol consumption during prohibition never stopped but went underground and beneath closed doors which were owned by the mafia as they exponentially grew in power; the best example being Al Capone. It is the same as today’s war on drugs, but it’s no longer the refined mafia in charge of the black market but the savage cartels. It is irresponsible, delusional and possible insane to keep enforcing a law against a drug which is less harmful than legal drugs such as Alcohol, Cigarettes; OxyContin and other readily prescribed opioids.

      Marijuana would help the local police officer on a personal basis. I did not start smoking marijuana until I was 28 and which I had decided to no longer pursue a career in law enforcement. I gave in to my curiosity and finally smoked my first hit of marijuana. I have suffered from anxiety and depression for a good part of my adult life, but in that moment of smoking, I had felt something I have not felt in years: tranquility. My anxiety and depression disappeared not only for hours after getting high but two days after. As I continued to use marijuana, I found myself becoming more introspective and empathetic. I would see my choices from different perspectives and reflect on them. I would find myself calmer with people and more compassionate. I would want to know more about a person than to judge them quickly. Food tastes phenomenal, my pain in my knees dulled and other hippie bullshit happened to me, which I enjoyed. No matter how extreme my next statement is, please think on it, police should be able to smoke because of this.

Being a police officer is a thankless and horrible job where you are always watching your back against dangers from not only criminals but politics. Police officers have a high degree of divorce, debt and mental illness which comes from working a job where you must go in each day with the thought, “today is the day I might get killed.” If a police officer were allowed to ingest marijuana like alcohol or other legal narcotics, then the local cops would be more compassionate to citizens, less stressed and clear-minded which can be used to solve heinous crimes.

      I don’t regret much from my time as a cop. I hope I was a good cop and I did indeed help another person. However, my only regret I have is the arrests I made on possession of marijuana. I have negatively affected people’s lives by sending them to jail for an uncomfortable time, pay a high bond with an addition to an arrest record which could hurt them in the future when it comes to employment or other opportunities. My friends comfort me by saying I was only doing my job; I was following the law. But the law is wrong, and I was wrong in enforcing it. In my opinion, these laws fall under the same ludicrous Jim Crow laws made against Black Americans or Sodomy laws made against homosexuals, in which we violated peoples rights for illogical and immoral reasons. The law is wrong with this one.

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