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Blowing Smoke

Several sheriffs in Colorado have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the voter-mandated legalization of marijuana in the state. “This suit is about one thing — the rule of law,” says Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. “The Colorado Constitution mandates that all elected officials, including sheriffs, swear an oath of office to uphold both the United States as well as the Colorado Constitutions.” And with marijuana legalization, the two are in conflict, he says, “a constitutional showdown” that puts sheriffs in a bind. Nonsense, says San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters. “I don’t see anywhere in the U.S. Constitution where it requires a local, elected law enforcement official to enforce federal law,” he says. “We don’t enforce immigration law. We don’t enforce Forest Service or EPA regulations. I don’t see why this is such a conflict for these sheriffs.” Masters adds that “a lot of sheriffs still believe for some strange reason that law enforcement can control marijuana, and it’s pretty obvious after being an officer for 40 years and after more than 50 years of a miserably failed drug war that it doesn’t work.” And is there an upswing in crime with legalization? “I don’t see any difference,” Masters says, except that “This year we are going to have the lowest inmate population per day that we’ve had since our jail opened.” (RC/Denver Post) ...Trying something different after 50 years of miserable failure? Huh: maybe there’s hope for the USA yet.
Original Publication Date: 22 March 2015
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 21.

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