Marijuana: Law enforcers join legislators in asking feds to back off Amendment 64
Eighteen legislators have signed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to respect voters in Washington and Colorado, a majority of whom opted for marijuana reform exemplified by the latter's Amendment 64. Today, members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) followed suit, delivering their own letter to Holder; see it below. We asked retired Denver cop Tony Ryan, who signed the letter, to weigh in on its message, and that sent by those who supported A64.
As you'll recall, Ryan, who now makes his home in South Dakota, is a 36-year Denver Police Department veteran. He earned a slew of awards during his years on the force, including the DPD Medal of Honor, the Merit Award (for being a first responder to the Columbine High School shooting), the Community Service Award and the Footprinter's Award. In addition, he was given the department's Purple Heart after being shot in the line of duty. But once he spoke out in favor of Amendment 64 at a September LEAP event at the State Capitol, Roger Sherman, director of Smart Colorado, the No on 64 campaign, dismissed him as a "pro-pot rent-a-cop" -- a description described by A64 proponent Mason Tvert as a smear.
Tony Ryan, left, with fellow marijuana reformer Leonard Frieling.
Today, Ryan shrugs off this alleged insult as "less significant that it was to start with, which was pretty insignificant in my book. When people start making that kind of noise, it's usually because they're losing the battle."
Following this dust-up, Ryan went on to star in an Amendment 64 TV ad that aired frequently in the run-up to the election. Here it is:
The subsequent victory of Amendment 64 was especially satisfying for Ryan.
"I'm proud of the people of Colorado," he notes. "They stood up and said, 'Let's do something real with the problem of drugs. Let's stand up and do something different' -- and that's what they did with marijuana."
Despite the vote, however, a potential shadow hangs over implementation of the measure. Amendment 64's text contradicts with federal drug policy, and while experts believe there's little the Obama administration can do to undermine the decision to remove criminal penalties for adult possession of an ounce or less of cannabis, many fear the feds will act to prevent the establishment of a retail sales system. Hence, the LEAP letter to Holder, which offers him "an invitation to help return our profession to the principles that made us enter law enforcement in the first place," by concentrating on serious/violent crime and allowing Colorado and Washington to set their own marijuana policies.
This soft-sell approach is reiterated by Ryan
Continue to read more of our interview with Tony Ryan and to see the LEAP letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.