Are Vermont police profiting from marijuana enforcement?

About a week ago, the Burlington Free Press’ Jess Aloe produced a thought-provoking number on the many police officers who testified — and lobbied — in their uniforms during this year’s debate on legalizing marijuana. Today, there’s a report from The Intercept that may shed some light on the situation. It certainly raises some questions, at the very least.

First, the Freeploid.

Uniformed police officers often make their opinions heard through the Vermont Police Association, which pays a lobbyist, or other police associations, but they also speak to legislators directly, wearing the uniforms of communities that may have yet to take an official stance on an issue.

… “There have been more police here as lobbyists this year, and I think it’s unusual,” [the Vermont ACLU’s Allen Gilbert] said. “The lobbying seems much more active — it’s much more organized.”

And now, The Intercept reports that police and prison guard groups are spending heavily to defeat a California ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana, and draws a line between that activity and “the revenue streams to which they have become… addicted.”

Drug war money has become a notable source of funding for law enforcement interests. Huge government grants and asset-seizure windfalls benefit police departments, while the constant supply of prisoners keeps the prison business booming.

Do I need to connect the dots?

According to the report, California law enforcement got $181 million in asset forfeitures from marijuana cases between 2002 and 2012. And,

As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2014, pot legalization in Washington state led asset forfeiture proceeds to go up in smoke.

In Vermont, as in California, police officials insist they oppose marijuana because of public-safety considerations, not self-interest. However, it’s worth asking: How much have Vermont police agencies received in pot-related asset forfeitures and federal grants?

How much have they gained from marijuana prohibition? How much money do they stand to lose if it’s legalized?

There’s your follow-up story, Jess.

3 thoughts on “Are Vermont police profiting from marijuana enforcement?

  1. Walter Carpenter

    “How much have they gained from marijuana prohibition? How much money do they stand to lose if it’s legalized?”

    This is definitely worth investigating more and I am glad you brought this up. Making marijuana illegal in the first place was about money. It would be interesting to know where to what, or if, this is also true in Vermont.

  2. nortryder

    They are absolutely in it for the money. Public safety? That’s a stretch. One would have to believe that after legalization a new large segment of the population would start driving “under the influence” where is the evidence for that. Maybe our “men in blue” could give testimony to the effectiveness of Prohibition. Money for law enforcement and even more money for the Mob.

    1. Dave Katz

      OT, completely:Do you have a Norton?
      Back on: Police: The Lobbyists, The Special Interest Group, The Thin Blue Line. Now appearing everywhere on a double bill with the Catholic Church. Interesting, how this one faction of civil servant always appears on the front lines of the most racist and anti-democratic American public policies throughout the late 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

      Historically, The Law often did criminals’ bidding during Prohibition, raiding rival factions and looking the other way when told to. One gangster cracked, “I can buy cops for lunch money!” And let’s not forget that Harry Ainslinger emerged as the head of what became the DEA in the midst of that whole Prohibition fever swamp, with all its racist implications. Scholars are now examining the Drug War from the standpoint of its institutional inception as a deliberate imprisonment response to the civil rights and the antiwar movements.


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