Why Can’t You Smoke Pot? Because Lobbyists Are Getting Rich Off of the War on Drugs
John Lovell is a lobbyist who makes a lot of money from making sure you can’t smoke a joint. That’s his job. He’s a lobbyist for the police unions in Sacramento, and he is a driving force behind grabbing Federal dollars to shut down the California marijuana industry. I’ll get to the evidence on this important story in a bit, but first, some context.
At some point in the distant past, the war on drugs might have been popular. But not anymore — the polling is clear, but beyond that, the last three Presidents have used illegal drugs. So why do we still put hundreds of thousands of people in steel cages for pot-related offenses? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is, of course, money in politics. Corruption. Whatever you want to call it, it’s why you can’t smoke a joint without committing a crime, though of course you can ingest any number of pills or drinks completely within the law.
Some of the groups who want to keep the drug illegal are police unions that want more members to pay more dues. One of the primary sources for cash for more policing activities are Federal grants for penalizing illegal drug use, which help pay for overtime, additional police officers, and equipment for the force. That’s what Lovell does, he gets those grants. He also fights against democratic mechanisms to legalize drugs.
In 2010, California considered Prop 19, a measure to legalize marijuana and tax it as alcohol. The proposition gained more votesthan Meg Whitman, the former eBay executive and Republican gubernatorial nominee that year, but failed to pass. Opponents of the initiative ran ads, organized rallies, and spread conspiracy theories about billionaire George Soros to confuse voters.
Lovell managed the opposition campaign against Prop 19. He told Time Magazine that he was pushing against the initiative because, “the last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized.”
But Republic Report reviewed lobbying contracts during the Prop 19 fight, and found that Lovell’s firm was paid over $386,350from a wide array of police unions, including the California Police Chiefs Association.
While Lovell may contend that he sincerely opposes the idea of marijuana legalization, he has constructed an entire business model predicated on pot prohibition.
Shortly after President Obama’s stimulus program passed, Lovell went to work channeling the taxpayer money for California into drug war programs. According to documents Republic Report obtained from the Police Chiefs Association, Lovell helped local departments apply for drug war money from the Federal government. Here’s a copy of one letter sent to a police department in Lassen County, California:
and private prisons are getting rich too and know they are “at risk” for legalization: “For example, any changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs and controlled substances could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.”
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In particular, the demand for our correctional and detention facilities and services, electronic monitoring services, community-based re-entry services and monitoring and supervision services could be adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws. For example, any changes with respect to the decriminalization of drugs and controlled substances could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, sentenced and incarcerated, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.
Oh, and reducing demand for correctional facilities is so bad why? THIS is what happens when the primary motivating factor of incarceration is PROFIT, not rehabilitation. I’m not usually emotional, but my stomach is turning fast enough to power a subdivision.
These are the special interests responsible, and yes, not only do they “disclose” their risks, but they’ve actually lobbied in favor of harsher stances on immigration and nonviolent drug offenses.