Guest Post: Florida Sheriffs and the Fight Against Marijuana

By: Travis Wilson
Florida will be the next battleground for the Medical Marijuana issue to surface. In 2014 voters will have the opportunity to voice their opinions on the matter; this has also given the state’s law enforcement brigades a reason to form an alliance to combat this issue. Elected Sheriffs from all across the state are teaming up to write articles in local papers, performing community outreach projects and citizen awareness campaigns on what they see as the dangers to society if medical marijuana were to be legalized or at a very least decriminalized. What I am here to say is “Sheriffs, Shut up already.”
If it is to be said that Law enforcement is the part of any government that’s sole reason for existence is to enforce the laws, ticket, fine or apprehend and incarcerate law breakers, then it should matter not what the laws are. As a collective of elected officials that swear to uphold the states laws and codes there should be no comment from this group as it would be in their special interest that any substance and product be illegal. In line with the most common defense of their actions, “just doing their jobs”, this would mean that groups of elected sheriffs and officers should not try to influence the changing of these laws by activism or advocacy campaigns.
The Florida Sheriffs Association cites multiple reasons why they oppose these reform measures. Most of these reasons are for the belief in the order to protect the common good or public welfare. Other reasons given by law enforcement are the reports of rising crime rates in areas where marijuana is legalized or decriminalized. Some of these reports are false and others unsupported, but that’s no reason to throw out the results say officers. “Florida’s sheriffs believe that legalizing smoking marijuana, which has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, is a dangerous decision for our state and its citizens. Florida’s Sheriffs stand firm in their opposition to the legalization of the use, possession, cultivation, delivery and sale of marijuana,” says their website.
The Association also puts in a disclaimer, “Florida sheriffs agree that there may be strains of marijuana that can provide relief for children with severe, intractable seizures. This type of marijuana is high in CBD, a pain relieving and anti-convulsing component of marijuana, and contains minimal amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive ingredient that produces a high). Sheriffs are concerned about manipulation of families in need if the production, distribution, monitoring and quality control are not well defined and regulated.” This is an example of exclusionary or discretionary liberty. When a group or groups are permitted while others are punished for the same act it does not send a clear message as to the reason for the ban in the first place. If the health risks are too great for recreational use by non-sick people than it stands that the health risk would be the same for sick persons. If the safety and security of the community be the reason it stands that the Association would define all crimes as being committed by those who do not suffer from these diseases. Though no study has been done to find this I would bet there would be at least some crime being committed by those that would be accepted to use medical marijuana.
On another side of this issue is the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). LEAP is a group of law enforcement personnel that oppose not only the prohibition of marijuana but of all recognized drugs and substances. Their statement is, “History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.” This is a different view in that instead of police punishing users, seller, buyers, cooks, growers and producers the riddance of prohibition will lead to more crimes of violence or property theft and damage. LEAP believes in a system of regulation and distribution but doesn’t mention who would have this control. This is an area I would like more details to be released.
One more way to look at this issue is the idea of complete abolition of all laws and regulations on every substance, natural plant or drug that is currently under the control of government. This belief is one that reduces the issue down to the basic aspect of property rights and self-ownership. If every man be respected to own and use his property in any way that does not interfere in the rights of others this issue is resolved under this ultimate idea. We do not live in such a world though. We live in a world where what a man does in his own home to his own body by voluntary means has somehow directed an effect unto the entirety of the public and should be shunned and punished by captivity.
The idea of self-governance and self-ownership is lost on the majority of the public. It is a concept that takes away the power to dictate others actions and set prejudices against things or situations that they morally admonish or oppose and replace it with  responsibility for one’s own self and nothing more.
The War on Drugs is ultimately a war on freedom and choice. It is a war on individual liberty and self-ownership. It is the opposition to the freedom that many people claim they seek and many more claim they support. The War on drugs is in one sentence a War on People.
Travis Wilson is a Guest Contributor to We Are Libertarians. He currently resides in Northeast Florida and is a libertarian activist. His other works can be found on his blog at the links below.

For more please check out Thejeffersonpapers.blogspot.com

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