For Law Enforcement, Marijuana is ‘Where the Money Is’

People often wonder why local law enforcement agencies will spend so many resources cracking down on marijuana. As this weekend’s superbly reported front-page piece in the Wall Street Journal explains, it really all comes down to money.

IGO, Calif.—Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko, his budget under pressure in a weak economy, has laid off staff, reduced patrols and even released jail inmates. But there’s one mission on which he’s spending more than in recent years: pot busts.

The reason is simple: If he steps up his pursuit of marijuana growers, his department is eligible for roughly half a million dollars a year in federal anti-drug funding, helping save some jobs. The majority of the funding would have to be used to fight pot. Marijuana may not be the county’s most pressing crime problem, the sheriff says, but “it’s where the money is.”

[…] To make sure his office gets the federal funds, Sheriff Bosenko since last year has spent about $340,000 of his department’s shrinking resources, more than in past years, on a team that tramps through the woods looking for pot farms.

As we’ve stated many times before, marijuana eradication programs are not only horribly ineffective at reducing the supply of marijuana, but even worse, they force law enforcement to commit massive amounts of resources and manpower to marijuana offenses at the expense of much more serious crimes. That’s why it’s so insane for the federal government to encourage and reward this type of misallocation. As the Journal article points out, California police departments are expected to lose $100 million in state funding this year, presumably leading even more departments to take up the eradication cause.

But if officials want to end illegal grows and see more money in state coffers at the same time, they need stop the madness and tax and regulate marijuana the same way we do alcohol, allowing the state to reap untold millions, possibly billions in new tax revenue while providing law enforcement with sufficient funding and sensible priorities that will allow them to focus on more serious crimes.

Now why can’t the federal government offer incentives with those kinds of results?

36 thoughts on “For Law Enforcement, Marijuana is ‘Where the Money Is’”

  1. well for starters it would mean admitting that the boys on the hill are wrong, and they cant have that. How do u think that statement will go. sory weve wasted billons of youre tax dollars and ruined millons of lives. doubt well ever hear it

  2. Funding for MJ irradiation at present is a giant rolling stone wheel. Have you ever tried to stop anything that has a lot of momentum?

  3. They could be so much more financially endowed, if they planted the marijuana grows, and spent less time tramping around to find random grows.

    After all, they’re just above a losing proposition as it appears now, and the planting idea would be so much more efficient, and equally effective, as it concerns the reduction of harm from marijuana, and the War on Drugs as a whole.

  4. The thing is, they are planting the stuff, unknowingly. Each time they remove big bales of cannabis plants out of remote areas of California State Forests, the downward swirl of wind generated by the helicopter’s rotors spreads the cannabis sees for hundreds of yards. They themselves are planting (and hence supplying) the substance that attracts resources to fund jobs that eradicate the exact substance they are planting. This has to be considered the MOST irresponsible appropriation and use of public funds in history.

  5. Those F-cks just want job security. When booze became legal the outlaws went right into drugs. Now california will have legal cannabis so what is next? They will go after the illegal people. Why cant those f-cks just be fired. As it is we may not even be speaking english or spanish much longer. It seems to me that we may be speaking chinese or iranien. Kill the terrorists of the world, not the cannabis user.

  6. Obama is a loser because he allows this waste of money that we don’t even have. That is real crime.
    Here’s an idea for pig. Go buy a hundred pounds of dirt weed in Mexico and take it back to the office. When the loser Obama wants some proof before he sends more of our money set it out on the street and act like you find it. Put it back in the office and save it for the next time the loser-OBAMA- wants proof.
    Better yet after legalization we lay off all the pigs and vote out the loser Obama.

  7. Why do people feel the need to bash the president? He is working within a 73 year cluster f*ck. The system was certainly not built overnight nor will it be dismantled in one. I am not trying to be an Obama cheerleader when I say that this is not his fault. He did not pass the laws that lets this kind of waste go on. Granted he isn’t passing any laws to stop it either but the office of the president is not the ruler of this country. Things have to be voted on and it’s a good thing too or else instead of having a chance to vote on someone else you would be saying ” Is that all your Majesty?” and we would have a monarchy.

  8. There may be a possibility that the pharmaceutical companies and the prohibition propaganda may have already reached their climax, and they are struggling to regain their power. They are still strong and capable to bribe certain politicians, but the economy is still going down and poverty will hurt the children much more than what drugs can do.

  9. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object? It’s a metaphor, I am not just asking questions here….

  10. This is what i can tell you about the above story’s truth. I live in redding ca where this story originated from. bosenko runs the sheriff’s department. They bust all year long in our forests arounds here and don’t even come close to making a dent in the amount of cannabis in shasta county. talk about lessons in futility. all the while the big state gangs like the nortenos have started recruiting anyone who wants to be in their gang, not just mexicans . this has inturn lead to an increase to the asian gangs who have brought in many outsiders from SF to protect them. Our local paper, the record searchlight, has the police department on record as saying they are unprepared for a gang war. as evidence of this lack of preparation a few weeks ago a 20 girl was paralyzed in a driveby shooting. Instead of preparing for the looming war in town the police are actively searching for the cannabis in the hills. They find all this cannabis and never even arrest anybody. pathetic. how can our society run this way, i don’t understand it…

  11. Andrew #10,

    “CONFLICT,” is the answer but you and I are militarily trained and think alike. The diplomats need to endure to the end on this one if there’s going to be peace and resolve over the coming years. Our thoughts of war are just not welcome here.

    USMC 1977-83

  12. Hey Cheebs 1:

    Obama laughed at us and basically told us to go fuck ourselves when we submitted (at his request) the number 1 and number 2 ideas for change – legalize pot.

    I voted for Obama. I also warned him that I would vote against him if he didn’t grow some balls and get the ball rolling towards legalization.

    As it stands today, I think he has been a fabulous president. If pot were legal and the election were today, I’d re elect him in a heartbeat.

    But he laughed at me. He insulted my intelligence. That is unforgiveable.

  13. Forget about people with “chronic or debilitating illnesses.” Illinois could become the latest state in the nation to legalize medicinal marijuana — but right now, cops are scrambling to kill the bill. The Chicago Police Department, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and Illinois Sheriffs’ Association are all lined up against medicinal pot, and as the vote draws near, they’re bringing the fear.

  14. The above comments are from an article on change.org. Is anyone else tired of being ruled by fear. Illinois has to be one of the most corrupt states. I forgot what it’s like to be truely free.

  15. “The passing of this bill is going to lead to more crime and drug use,” Phil Cline, former Chicago police superintendent said, according to ABC. “Street gangs will open marijuana dispensaries and they’ll use the profits for selling that marijuana to buy guns and drugs and bail out fellow gang members.”

    They’re going to bail each other out and multiply like zombies! Let sick people get access to six marijuana plants, and gang members will start roaming the streets, looking to kill to get more pot and money.

    This is what there telling our politicians.

    70% of the Illinois people favor medical cannabis. So what gives?

  16. I will now and forever BASH Obama. He is now telling his cronies to give the muslims scientific and nuclear knowledge. He wants socialized medicine. He will not support in any way the arrest of the black panthers thet did not allow people to vote in Chicago. Now to my point. Soon there will be thousands of laid off prison guards when cannabis becomes legal. They will be joining the rest of us that have been laid off. I know that it will be the ex DEA and the ex guards that will be running state run cannabis shops if we do not get cannabis legalized across this nation. I do not want to live in a socialist nation like Mark #13. I want my freedom and my neighbors. When a single person looses their freedom then others will follow, and not by choice. I stand by what I say and the proof is in their actions. Not their lying words.

  17. the SAD thing is when that sheriff says , “that’s where the money is” so do the gang bangers in the cities. how they any different when they know it’s not the biggest or harmful problem. see this right here is proof that the police support selfish endeavors on innocent people. how are they any different than a gang??? the divide in this country for self expression and personal freedom is rapidly evaporating, while we are getting policed by so many different cops in so many different cities by so many different laws that we can’t keep up with it nor can they. Obama has “drug” his feet and become to politically engaged and lost touch with the normal people!

  18. I have said it befor and will say it again the biggest problem with leaglizing pot is unemployment judges,procuters,bailifs,court reporters,bondsmen,prision guards,dea agents,police officers and the list goes on and on if the U.S.A. spends probley close to 150,000,000,000.oo dollers when all added up that is probley 1 to 2 million jobs
    also the government has a fonzi problem rember fonzi could not say i’m wrong
    add the fact that we live in a litegatious country how many lawyers will be lining up to sue I can see the adds now WERE YOU ONE OF 20,000,000PEOPLE DENIED YOUR RIGHTS OR HAD YOUR RIGHTS TAKEN AWAY BECAUSE OF POT COME SEE SO AND SO FOR A FREE CONSULT

  19. @ Bryan isint it funny that they happen upon three small cannabis plants , the three officer there are like “We’re gonna need air support”, 20 mins later a chopper hovers above drops a towing cable, they attach it to the cannabis plants then it is taken airbourne , what was wrong with another vehicle ? seriously. the feds and most of the police waste resources when they use a chopper to remove three measley plants , makes me wonder .

  20. Hey Clarence,

    I never said I wanted to live in a socialist nation. Don’t put words in my mouth.

  21. Looking back forty years of social awareness on marijuana issues, politicians who claimed to be pro-law enforcement did not helped police officers but to simply have them transformed and unionized under false pretenses so that they will become a political entity to be reckoned with. They will become political mercenaries just like any other countries. United States is changing fast so watch out!

  22. I can not believe that in America people do not understand that marijuana prohibition does not work. Tax the herb which is waaaaaaaaaaay safer than other really dangerous prescription drugs/alcohol. Recently NYC Mayor (Bloomberg) said that there is no medical use for marijuana. How come I know more about the herb than American Mayor? WTF?!

  23. People who are against the police should look very carefully at that line “THAT’S WHERE THE MONEY IS,” because our plight will never change as long as people pursue money at all costs. We all need to search in our hearts for the values that truly matter to us and stand up for them. Make love and compassion the bottom line, instead of money. Otherwise, we are no better than that police chief uprooting and replanting marijuana for government money. We need to grow up as a society and abandon our petty pursuit of comfort and power.
    peace.

  24. Anti marijuana persecution is a willful violation of the Federal and State civil rights of the medical marijuana patients, a subset of WE THE PEOPLE. The A.C.L.U. must be encouraged to fight for Repeal of all anti marijuana legislation, since it violates the Declaration that WE have the inalieniable Rights of Life Liberty and the Pursuit Of Happiness.
    All State officials that violate their oath of Office to uphold the State Constitution can be terminated for cause. John Roberts Decision in 2006. Oy Veh? and still these corrupt officials are allowed to remain in office??????
    El Jibaro De Lytle Creek

  25. History is repeating itself. Lies and propaganda made marijuana illegal. The masters of the media will keep it illegal.
    So the show begins, all aimed at defeating California in November.

  26. Cliff (#7), Mark (#13)
    In October, 2009 the Obama administration stated they WILL NOT pursue arrests of people using medicinal marijuana as long as they are following the state laws.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/19/new-medical-marijuana-pol_n_325426.html

    This reverses the stance of the Bush and previous administrations and is another step toward more acceptance and tolerance. It also frees up manpower and funds for more serious crimes. Now if we can just get the older generations to forget “Reefer Madness” and all the other propaganda that was put out by the government to sway the public in their true effort of alcohol prohibition, we may have a chance. Get as many Baby Boomers smoking upon retirement, then things may change quicker. I hear they’re a really large group in our population.

    As more states pass medicinal marijuana laws or consider legalizing it as a way to bring in revenue, it will be accepted more widely and the feds will eventually have to go along. At this point, more than 1/4 of the states have medicinal marijuana laws with more moving in that direction; and legalization is on the November ballot in CA.

  27. POT is just a minor problem for the country that is moving to the far
    right, even so we elected a more progressive president.
    This has started long before Obama was elected.
    People like Clarence like to blame him for everything, but didn’t complain
    when Bush Cheny ruined the country with their facist crap

  28. Seems the only ‘crime’ here, is being human.
    So, why do we allow some ‘humans’ to victimize other ‘humans’?
    I believe this to be the biggest case of ‘State-Sponsored Terrorism” perpetrated on this hemisphere, EVER.
    The state actually PAYS one group to TERRORIZE another!
    ABSOLUTE, STATE-SPONSORED, PREJUDICE ENDORSED BY RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISTS !

    I have seriously tried to understand the differences between users and drug enforcement officials. They have much in common.

    Drug users will rationalize and justify their bizarre behavior, so will drug enforcement.

    Drug users will repeat their actions (using) expecting different results, so will drug enforcement (arresting users).

    Drug users live in a state of denial, refusing to admit their shortcomings. So do drug enforcement officials.

    When drug users are sent to treatment they are expected to learn lessons about living life successfully. One of these lessons is: When you are wrong, promptly admit it and make amends to those who have been wronged.

    It is past time for drug enforcement to stop rationalizing and justifying their failed enforcement policies. These policies have failed and have done more harm than good. It is time drug enforcementadmitted they have been wrong and made amends to the American people.

    It is past time for “Prohibition” to end regarding marijuana. It did not work for alcohol and is not working now. Marijuana is no more addictive than coffee.

    Continuing to repeat their actions, expecting different results, is evidence that drug enforcement needs an intervention. Their policies have been honed to deliver money to those involved, that is the primary motivation. These actions are not helping people.

    The medical community and “Anonymous” programs are doing the real work of helping those who are addicted.

    Pretending that a well-financed but failing drug policy is still the best way (after 40 yr of failure) is definitely repeating the same action and expecting different results. Rationalizing and justifying the continuation of this policy, while denying failure, is not sane. Admitting that the failed policies are wrong and making amends with the American people IS the sane thing to do. Failing (or just simply refusing) to recognize the truth of this reasoning is “living in denial”.

    Please give us a drug policy that makes real sense so we can talk to our children honestly. They can see right through the lies and propoganda. Drug enforcement’s addiction to the money has become so self-evident that the illusion of credibility is gone.

    Let us have a drug policy that addresses the medical problem and admits the wrongs perpetrated against the American people for profit.

    Children learn what they live. Those who get no respect, give no respect. America’s children have lost all respect for the drug enforcement community and all the “Force” in the world will not restore it.

    Sometimes, the only way to victory is through surrender. This is a Christian principle that I hope you will seriously consider with an open mind.

    Another is: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But for the grace of God, YOU could be in the user’s shoes. Please consider.

    End terrorism in America.

  29. First off, I would like to mention that the boy who wrote this article is one hot dish! Needed to get that out of the way first…

    Anywhom, the legalization of pot would not only greatly economize our penal system (as there are more potheads and harmless drug affiliates in our jails nationwide than there are violent convicts) but would also be cheaper on the buyer. The only person who would lose out due to legalization would be the dealer and that’s because the dealer’s prices have been inflated so much for so long as a mechanism of greed and of cowardess from law enforcement. It’s time to put an end to the nonsense, the ridiculous sentencings and the high fucking prices.

    On another note, what does it say about the American moral fiber when we can talk straight-up about toxic cigarettes and alcohol but a potentially helpful substance such as weed must be lied about and kept under wraps? (Before I say the following, I must remind that morality is a subjective term and should be left to individual people) There’s no moral quandry about marijuana that exceeds such toxicities but the economic quandries, from which, we are all suffering due to it’s illegality are a total sham and a shame as it could be so easily reversed. Give pot a chance and that freedom thing, too.

  30. Important as Alcohol and Pharmaceutical are (each over 100,000 d./yr.) the central money issue is Big 2WackGo (440,000 d./yr.) which, through its ad-dictive advertising, promotes consumer purchases providing US taxing bodies from fed to state to county to city over $30-bil. tax revenues a year, plenty over enough to fund over $10-bil./yr. law enforcement against cannabis users.

    In ascending order of priority:

    (A) big $igarette companies may have reason to fear some millions of present-day pack-a-day smoker addicts could use cannabis to break their addiction to nicotine, but

    (B) — far scarier for them– millions of pack-a-day puffsuckers
    could suddenly learn one-hitter literacy and replace their 1/2-ounce per day tobackgo ration with a few 25-mg. single tokes, buying ridiculously smaller quantities so the companies could never make money, not even if they shifted over from tobackgo, off sparingly consumed cannabis as they have off gluttonously consumed tobackgo heretofore.

    The main cause of their profit collapse will be when consumers suddenly shift from hot burning overdose high profit 700-mg. $igarette format to

    (a) 25-mg. single tokes (see Wikipedia: “One hitter (smoking)”). A modern post-traditional one-hit “chillum”, “kiseru”, “midwakh” or “sebsi” has a narrow screened crater, used with shredded or sifrted herb, and a long flexible drawtube for vapors to further cool before inhalation.

    (b) vaporizer– many plug-in electrics available, up to top-of-line $600 Volcano– used with your own present brand of $igarette tobacco or any other brand or other species of herb.

    (c) e-cigarette — with replaceable cartridges presently offering many nicotine and non-nicotine formulas, tomorrow maybe cannabinoid ones instead, marketed by thousands of small companies in addition to shrunken remnants of the present-day Oligopoly.

  31. This is exactly why anyone who can obtain a medical marijuana card should, why people should keep their privacy held intellectually (not blab-mouthing what’cha growing and selling it), and why people should vote. If more people did things as lawfully as they could, they could also change the laws. As we in California come up to November’s possibility of legalizing this natural growing plant, of course they are going to target as many growers and users as possible. How can we win the vote if EVERYONE is at risk of going to jail and missing the voting date!!!! Wake up people and join the fight to make everyone better. Stop hating the pot smokers, immigrants that are trying to become citizens, and poverty-stricken that are actually trying to get out of poverty. Stop hating. Focus on healing, improving, and neutralizing.

  32. And, Maxwood-you are so right, for years my mother and I debated this issue; she is a chain-menthol-smoking FREAK!!! Over the years she said, if it was legal she would smoke it to relieve her cancer and reproductive issues. Now, if that crazy lady would give up her 40+ year habit (through a pregnancy that ended with a sickly child compared to my 3 gifted, kind children which I did consume as needed my medical marijuana)–to smoke pot that she gave up once she started the yucky habit–don’t ya think many other people would. Of course. And, that does scare the other legal vices that are readily available like tobacco and alcohol and pharmaceuticals.

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