In 2019, we spoke to a retired police officer to find out what law enforcement thinks of marijuana. This week, we are revisiting this archived interview. We have kept him anonymous at his request.
Q: Tell me a bit about your background in law enforcement?
A: I worked for a local police department for over 30 years as a patrol officer and detective.
Q: Do you think marijuana should be legalized for recreational use?
A: I’m generally in favor of legalization because I think it’s safer to have people using regulated products, but I have a lot of concerns based on my experience and the research I’ve done on what’s happening in other states.
Q: What have some of your encounters with cannabis in law enforcement been like?
A: We never made a big deal out of it. If we apprehended someone for a serious crime, we’d tag it on, but most guys didn’t make a big deal about it and would let a small amount go. Usually just tossing it out, unless the person was being impolite or disrespectful towards us, then we’d be a little bit more willing to do the paperwork and charge them for possession.
Q: What are some of your concerns about legalization?
A: I have some concerns about public safety. I want to see more research that studies the impact of cannabis use on a population level because we don’t know what the negative consequences will be. We’re going to fully open up the market to everyone above the age of 21 and we don’t fully understand what will happen if we do that. We hear a lot about jobs and the economy, but it all can’t be good. There has to be drawbacks.
Impaired driving is one of my big concerns. There’s been studies done in other states that look at impaired driving before and after legalization, and impaired driving increases after legalization. Addiction is another big concern. We’ve thought for a long time that marijuana was a gateway drug, well if it turns out it is a gateway drug and we tell everyone that its ok to use then we might be increasing the chance that someone becomes addicted. Motivation is another concern, marijuana can negatively impact motivation, so how will that impact our society? At the end of the day, I know legalization is coming, and I’m not opposed to it. I’d just like to see New York do a better job at legalizing than other states have done. I’d like them to do it more intelligently.
Related: Opinion Piece: Reducing the Stigma