Minnesota Representative Carly Melin has been trying to bring medical marijuana to her state. When she set out to achieve this goal, she assumed that there would be some tough negotiations and compromises along the way. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has insisted that any successful medical marijuana bill would require getting law enforcement on board. Unfortunately, it appears that members of Minnesota law enforcement are unwilling to compromise in any way.
"It's like negotiating with a brick wall. All along I have said that I am willing to amend the bill. But they won't move at all." said Carly Melin according to Politics In Minnesota. The article went on to describe how Representative Melin met with the Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition to discuss her proposal. The Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition includes the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, Minnesota Sheriffs Association, Minnesota County Attorneys Association, and Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators.
Ultimately the officers presented a 10 page bulleted outline of their absolute opposition to medical marijuana. One objection that was raised at the meeting, yet was absent in the report, was the truth - that officers are concerned about what the measure would do to police budgets which thrive due to asset forfeitures from marijuana investigations.
"According to Melin, Dennis Flaherty, the executive director of the MPPOA, explicitly told her that he was worried that legalization --- in any form --- could lead to harmful reductions in the federal grants that are an important funding source for many police agencies." the Politics In Minnesotaarticle stated.
This is a very common thing, and the importance of Representative Melin bringing attention to this area of public policy cannot be understated. From Minnesota to Oregon to every other state in the union, law enforcement uses the drug war to bolster their budgets. It's an area that doesn't get nearly enough attention because it's not flashy, and doesn't draw big headlines. However, if more people new about it, reform would come, and with it, positive change.
If cops didn't get a cut of what they take from marijuana arrests (cars, money, property, etc.), would they bust as many people for something that is harmless? Law enforcement groups oppose medical marijuana in Minnesota and beyond with everything they got. Patients go without the medicine they need, even though it's a safe, effective alternative to prescription drugs. Why is that? Obviously it's because these members of law enforcement care more about their budgets than they do suffering patients, which is a sad thing.
Some facts about asset forfeiture in Minnesota:
- In 2012, police in Minnesota seized approximately $8.3 million of cash and property under the state's forfeiture law
- The St. Paul Police Department netted more than $582,000 from asset seizures in 2012. It was the second-biggest haul of any police agency in the state --- a fact made more notable since the proceeds were derived exclusively from controlled-substance cases.
- Minnesota law enforcement agencies netted nearly $30 million between 2003 and 2010 through the use of forfeiture.
- The average seizure in Minnesota is worth $1,253.