By Brandon HENSLEY
While people on both sides of political matters accuse each other of blowing smoke, Glendale Police Chief Ron DePompa literally hopes that won’t be the case regarding the outcome of Proposition 19 on the Nov. 2 ballot.
For those who have been living inside a hash pipe, the proposition, if passed, would allow people over 21 to grow up to 25 square feet and possess an ounce of marijuana.
DePompa has been actively campaigning against the measure for some time. In a phone interview this week, he says the measure is “ill-conceived and ill-defined, and it leaves too many unanswered questions and loopholes that will never be closed. So it will ultimately create a public safety nightmare for local municipalities.”
Marijuana issues are not new to the state. In 1996, it passed Prop. 215 legalizing medical marijuana use.
“And Prop. 215 has created nothing but nightmares for local law enforcement and public safety,” DePompa said.
The federal government has come out and said it will not recognize California’s law and will actively pursue users. Earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to nine former chiefs of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and said the government will continue to uphold the laws under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
“We will vigorously enforce the CSA against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law,” Holder wrote.
Tom Angel, spokesperson for the measure, feels differently.
“They don’t have the resources to arrest everybody in California who uses marijuana,” he said.
While DePompa fears for a lack of public safety, Angel said tax revenue from the measure would increase public safety.
But, “Who in their right mind is going to pay taxes on a substance that is still banned federally?” DePompa said.
A heated topic is that of the role Mexican drug cartels would play if Prop. 19 is passed.
“We’re going to make it all the more easier for those cartels to operate under the veil of legality in our state,” said DePompa.
“The current prohibition laws cause violence and harm by creating those lucrative black markets that allow drug cartels and gangs to make lots of money,” said Angel.
DePompa and his North Area Command held a Town Hall meeting at Verdugo Hills Hospital last month and outlined his reasons to vote no on the proposition. At the meeting, he said businesses and schools could lose up to $9.5 billion in federal funding for not maintaining a drug free environment.
How businesses handle employee drug use is an issue for DePompa, but Angel said, “We’re not forcing employers to allow marijuana smoking in the work place or anything crazy like that.”
Mike Perry, president of the CV Chamber of Commerce, declined to comment specifically on the matter, but said the United Chambers office is opposed to the proposition.
“We just simply cannot afford to keep spending so much money arresting and locking people up for marijuana, and also we can’t afford to not take in new tax revenue that could be generated when we control cannabis,” Angel summed up.
DePompa said proponents “talk a good game,” and called the idea of passing the measure “insanity.”
Polls show that public opinion is virtually split. The federal government has said it doesn’t matter what happens. Reefer Madness? More like confusion.