Law Enforcement

Fiction:  “Medical” marijuana does not cause problems for law enforcement

“Medical” marijuana advocates claim that in states where marijuana is legal under the guise of medicine there is little impact on law enforcement activities and that these laws are well-accepted by law enforcement.

Fact:   “Medical” marijuana laws create many problems for law enforcement including an increase in drug-related violence.

Legalizing marijuana for so-called medical purposes has lead to increased use of marijuana by other persons, increased crime and the perception that marijuana is harmless. Legalizing marijuana for “medicinal” purposes increases dangers associated with impaired driving.

Since the first “medical” marijuana law passed in the United States, as many as 20 “medical” marijuana providers have been killed around the country, mostly in robberies.  After Colorado legalized “medical” marijuana, a local CBS television station discovered that licensed “medical” marijuana providers were using “medical” marijuana laws to foster drug dealing. In one instance, a CBS reporter asked Ken Gorman, (a licensed “medical” marijuana provider) how many people he had given marijuana to who weren’t sick, he responded by saying, “Hundreds.” “When we passed the [medical marijuana] law we passed a great, great law. “There are so many holes in it that for us, the patient, police can’t do anything.” Ken Gorman admitted he didn’t have a medical condition and “just wanted to get high.” Gorman was killed a month later in a marijuana-related robbery. The average marijuana clinic in California makes $20,000 in profit each day. Marijuana providers buy pot wholesale from street dealers and resell it for twice the amount.

Some examples of the problems caused by the “medical” marijuana dispensaries are:

  • Street level dealers attempting to sell to people entering the business
  • Smoking of marijuana in public areas
  • Increased “driving while under the influence of marijuana” violations
  • Attempted burglaries of marijuana establishments
  • Robberies of clients as they leave businesses with their purchase
  • Adverse impact an neighboring businesses
  • Presence of a physician on the premises issuing recommendations for use,  which drew numerous people from out of the area
  • Lack of effort on the part of dispensary owners/employees to control unlawful or nuisance behavior in and around the business
  • Increased loitering and associated nuisances
  • Complaints that other illegal drugs were sold from the dispensaries
  • Trading of marijuana purchased at a dispensary to a minor for sex
  • Purchasers congregating and smoking marijuana in areas frequented by children
  • Sales of marijuana to persons not holding the appropriate certificate.

The Scam of “Medical” marijuana poses significant questions for law enforcement.

1)      Are police officers liable if they let individuals with marijuana, claiming a medical condition, drive off and later injure or kill someone?

2)      Are state and local officers able to detain individuals that possess marijuana, call federal officials to come and arrest them on federal charges?

3)      How will law enforcement officers respond to large marijuana plots when the owners claim that they are "caregivers" who must cultivate marijuana for their customers?

4)      Can inmates in prison claim that they are suffering from a medical condition requiring marijuana? If so, how are prison officials expected to maintain order and discipline with the inmates high on marijuana?

5)      How will law enforcement handle recommendations from doctors or caregivers from other states, or from Mexico and Canada?

The California Police Chief Association, in conjunction with the California State Sheriff’s, Narcotics Officers and District Attorneys’ Associations and the California Highway Patrol, has formed a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force. The Task Force was formed to address state versus federal law enforcement issues as well as the crime and quality of life issues, including the burgeoning indoor grow business, that accompany them. The Task Force gathered data on dispensaries to use to assist in the development of a white paper to share with other agencies facing problems/issues surrounding “medical” marijuana dispensaries.