I've worked in law enforcement for 35 years, including 15 years as the police chief in San Jose, California. Over my career, I have seen firsthand how misguided our marijuana policies are for our state and our country. That's why I narrated the Yes on 19 campaign's new TV ad.
For 70 years, we have prohibited marijuana in this country, each day expecting different results. But as William F. Buckley once said: "Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could."
We spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year arresting people for marijuana possession, sending them to trial, and incarcerating small-time offenders.
And yet, despite our war against it, marijuana is so freely available that anyone who wants it in California can get it.
Today, because it is illegal, teenagers have an easier time buying pot than beer. For any high school student, trying to purchase a six-pack without ID means being turned away by a liquor store owner who is concerned with losing his license. The same can't be said for drug dealers who exploit prohibition to profit off our kids.
On my watch as police chief in San Jose, the city was named the safest large city in the country, despite having the fewest police per capita. That's because we policed intelligently. And between smart policing and sound policy we can make our streets safe, instead of paying lip service to the failing war on marijuana.
California cannot afford to continue the same failed policies of the past. We need to pass Proposition 19 to tax and control marijuana like we do alcohol.
Controlling and taxing marijuana will generate over a billion dollars in new revenue every year, in contrast to the current $14 billion criminally-controlled market for marijuana, the largest cash crop in California. This money will go to local communities, allow police to focus on violent crimes, and put drug cartels out of business.
Proposition 19 will take marijuana out of the hands of criminals and put it into the hands of licensed vendors. That way, it will be easier to keep it away from our children.
That's why I am asking you to join me and many others in law enforcement by voting YES on Proposition 19.