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The Ship Has Sailed: California Cops Back Legal Weed in a Historic Shift!

California's pot farmers have found an unexpected ally in their quest for legitimacy: the police. After years of opposition, one of the state's most influential law enforcement groups has made a dramatic shift in support of cannabis legalization, signaling a significant transformation in cannabis politics.

Earlier this month, the Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC), which represents 950 police unions and over 80,000 officers, announced its support for marijuana legalization and legal pot businesses. In a policy position released this month, PORAC declared, "The ship has sailed," acknowledging the widespread acceptance and accessibility of cannabis in America.

PORAC's endorsement coincided with its support for the STATES 2.0 Act, a congressional bill aimed at compelling the federal government to recognize state-legal cannabis programs. This bill would also provide significant financial benefits to legal cannabis companies by reducing their federal tax rate and enabling the legal export of their products across state lines.

PORAC President Brian Marvel explained to SFGATE that the STATES 2.0 Act would facilitate better coordination between federal and local law enforcement to combat illegal cannabis operations while supporting legal enterprises. "We’re not making a moral judgment as to whether you should smoke it or don’t smoke it," Marvel said, "but we want to make sure [legal cannabis companies] aren’t being drowned out by the illegal market."

If passed, the bill could dramatically boost the legal cannabis industry by reducing federal taxes and allowing interstate commerce, a long-held goal for many in the industry. This shift marks a departure from PORAC's previous opposition to Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized marijuana in California.

Marvel noted that the normalization of cannabis among officers has been a key factor in this change. "A fair amount of officers patrolling the streets nowadays know nothing other than legalized marijuana in the state of California," he said, adding that this new generation of officers is more open to discussing cannabis.

The end of federal prohibition could also alleviate the burden on local law enforcement by involving federal agencies in the fight against illegal cannabis operations. This would free up local police to focus on other crimes, enhancing overall public safety.

The STATES 2.0 Act proposes a new federal tax on cannabis to fund regulation and enforcement. Marvel highlighted that additional funds for law enforcement were a major reason for PORAC's support. Additionally, addressing the environmental damage caused by illegal pot farms is another priority. "We really need to do everything in our power to eradicate the illegal grows in California," Marvel emphasized.

PORAC's support reflects a broader shift in attitudes towards cannabis within law enforcement nationwide. Oregon's statewide law enforcement group has also backed the STATES 2.0 Act, marking the first time such groups have supported federal legalization.

This changing perspective extends beyond cannabis.

New California legislation prevents workplace discrimination based on past cannabis use, and PORAC is advocating for research on the safety of cannabis use by active officers during non-work hours. Marvel indicated that this pragmatic approach also applies to psychedelic reform, emphasizing the need to focus on violent crimes and community safety rather than blanket drug enforcement.

Do you think federal legalization of cannabis will improve law enforcement's focus on violent crimes?

  • Yes, it will allow better resource allocation.

  • No, it won't make a significant difference.

  • Maybe, it depends on implementation.


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