THE BLOG

Drug War Tactics Inconsistent With Law Enforcement Ethics

08/23/2013 06:22 pm ET | Updated Oct 23, 2013

During my law enforcement career I became increasingly cynical as my profession showed me the dark side of human nature. But today my cynicism turned to a lack of respect for the professional drug warriors also known as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as they have denigrated the criminal justice profession in their salvo to eliminate medical marijuana not just in California, but across all the states that have approved its use. In this Huffington Post article the authors point out the disconnect between the words of Eric Holder, and the actions of DEA troops that are tasked with as part of their mission of the eradication of the state-compliant cannabis industry.

Less than two weeks after Attorney General Eric Holder announced plans for sweeping drug sentencing reform to help fix a 'broken system,' the Drug Enforcement Administration has ordered security and armored vehicle companies to quit serving state-legal cannabis providers, according to industry sources. The DEA, an arm of Holder's Department of Justice, confirmed the order to The Huffington Post, but wouldn't elaborate.

"Stunned and speechless" does not adequately convey my emotions. I am angry and disgusted at the blatant disregard for the lives of innocent people including patients, employees, surrounding communities, government workers and local law enforcement officers who will be endangered by reducing the security of legal businesses. This is a dangerous game that the DEA is playing using innocent lives. These heavy-handed tactics show the extent of collateral damage they are willing to allow just to win.

This spurious application of federal law to direct companies providing services such as banking and security reminds me of how ego and the escalation of physical tactics results in the many excessive force complaints in law enforcement that polarize our communities. In discussing the latest revelations, fellow Law Enforcement Against Prohibition board member Stephen Downing had this to say:

Combined with federal restrictions and threats made to banks about doing business with marijuana providers, this ensures that businesses known to carry large amounts of cash will be transporting that cash without professional protection. You couldn't create a situation more ripe for criminal intervention if you tried. It's like the directive was written by petty thugs rather than by one of the most powerful agencies of the U.S. government.

But the difference between the tactics of the DEA and local policing efforts is that the DEA rarely reaps the consequences of their ill-conceived policies. It's the local cops who will be further damaged as we get lumped in with the DEA's zealotry to achieve their failed drug war that, according to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 4 percent of Americans believe we are winning.

Clearly this new salvo in the drug war is inconsistent with the ethical values and standards professional law enforcement agencies adhere to. This effort by the DEA reflects poorly on the Obama administration, and is one more indicator of an out-of-control bureaucracy more concerned with sustaining its control and power than with enhancing public safety. It is long past due for our law enforcement leaders to publicly admonish these type of tactics by our federal government. Let's hope that it won't take the loss of innocent lives to give them the courage to do so.