Gregg Daly, a San Leandro businessman with a background in military and civilian law enforcement, delivered a compelling statement Sept. 16 as the San Leandro, California, city council considered whether to permit medical cannabis sales after several years of ducking behind a “moratorium.” 

Daly’s commentary may have helped sway the council members, who voted to allow two dispensaries to open. 

Dear Mayor and City Council,

Tonight public opinion and comments will be taken on the marijuana enforcement issues before the City Council.    I would like to take some time to make a case for the legalization and taxation of both the cultivation and retail sales of cannabis in San Leandro.

Current bioI am a 16-year resident of San Leandro, a small business owner running an IT consultancy, and I live with my wife and three children in Bay-O-Vista.

My background: I have extensive law enforcement experience.   I was a US Army Military Police sergeant with duties which included working with MPI and the Criminal Investigation Division Command (CIDC) and working undercover in anti-narcotics, anti-terror, and firearm/explosives/weapon investigations.   I am also a retired California peace officer, retiring from the Monterey Police Department in 1996. I worked street patrols and was the department’s subject-matter-expert on intoxication and DUIs, not just with alcohol but with pharmaceuticals and recreational drugs as well.   In fact, I was the only officer of my time to make a Percocet DUI arrest at 6 AM while working traffic enforcement.     I was the leading expert on all areas of intoxication and enforcement methods related to that issue. 

I worked undercover in both Europe and California in investigative capacities with Army CIDC, the German Polizei, most American federal agencies, and international / allied police agencies throughout western Europe.     I even had the pleasure to work under one of the Army’s original “Tuft Boys” (named after Col. Tufts, the first leader of CIDC; he was seen as the Elliot Ness of the Army after the “Khaki Mafia” [military-based organized crime) cases in the 70s). He was a chief warrant officer 3, a special agent, and one of the most respected undercover commanders in the Army.

I am not “speaking out of school” here on this subject, not at all.

I am also a strong supporter of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which seeks to dramatically change the way we deal with drugs and  enforcement in our society and around the world.

My position is a strong and clear one:  End the troubled law enforcement experiment which has failed so miserably.   Legalize, regulate and tax.   

Prohibition has been an abject policy failure: As a citizen, a parent, a former undercover investigator and a police officer for many years, my expert opinion on the entire New Prohibition (known as “The War on Drugs”) is that it has been a total failure.    There are no bright points of achievement to cite in this matter.  There are simply no “wins” in this half-cocked war politicians demand we continue despite overwhelming evidence of failure after failure, abuse after abuse, and even corruption and violence after more of the same.   They want us to continue to spend tax dollars with no results as schools and other services are time and time again hit with budget cuts.     Even the police cry endlessly that they don’t have enough budget nor staff, yet they refuse to allow a revenue stream from taxing a  harmless plant.  It just does not make any sense any longer.

What has billions upon billions of WoD spending gotten our society?    Here is the REAL INFORMATION (not the propaganda):
Drugs are more available than any time in history.
Drugs are cheaper than any time in history.
Drugs are higher quality and potency than ever before. 
Non-violent drug offenders have clogged up both the courts and the prisons.  See Gov. Brown’s prison population nightmare issue in progress.
Most of the “prisoner release” controversy and costs have a primer in two failed and expensive policies – three strikes and the WoD. 
The costs versus rewards according to numerous studies are in fact inverted at this point.    The WoD is more the problem today than the drugs themselves.
The WoD has been undermining the trust, integrity and professionalism of law enforcement, and it is probably the most corruptive factor in law enforcement over the past 30 years.

Yet some don’t want to change course whatsoever.    That is burying your head in the sand and being totally dysfunctional.

No one has ever died from the ingestion of marijuana in medical history (source:  Professor Emeritus, Harvard Medical School).  Yet 9 of 10 overdoses at San Francisco General are ODs caused by Oxy, Percs, and Vicodins.  The alleged “safe and tested” pharmaceutical drugs are the street drug problem according to researchers and hospitals, yet there is still a hair-on-fire attitude towards marijuana from some in law enforcement and some politicians.    Do they enjoy ignoring published data for self-fulfillment?!?

It proves the lobbyists for Big Pharma have been highly successful getting police to ignore the harm (90% of it) their ‘FDA-approved’ products are causing and blame-shift  the issue to marijuana despite having no evidence to support their positions.

But even more today than several years ago, the police are worried  (even panicked) about marijuana?!? WHY?!?  There is no supporting evidence for their stance, NONE WHATSOEVER.  I believe their panic is more around the issues of department funding, budget dollars, than the drug’s actual harm.  It is their cash cow, and they do not want to let it go, seemingly with disregard to the impact to society at large and “the will of the people.”

Police and politicians alike need to stop using the corrupt WoD as a broken funding mechanism for law enforcement, and we need to change to a sane system of taxation to fund our cities, including the police:

Asset seizures have become corrupt and out-of-control.   Every investigation now needs to be an “asset seizure revenue stream,” and that puts law enforcement in a corrupt and failing position every time.

Asset seizures have “gone off the reservation” as we used to say.  Entire investigations are being launched not because of the crime and its impact to the community, but how much property can be seized.  (When insufficient evidence to support the warrant is found later by the judges, they often replace “asset seizure” with “illegal warrant and theft”).   Is this a REAL method on PROPERLY funding law enforcement???     Of course not, yet it is the go-to method.  (As unethical as it has been getting, it is STILL the go-to method for chiefs and sheriffs across the country, and thatseriously worries me).

Did you know “asset seizure” includes having all your cash and property taken from you at a traffic stop even though no drugs were found???  It happens every day in this country, more so if you are a non-white driver.  From my extensive reading on the topic (I have been writing an extensive political blog for 15 years and the WoD is a frequent topic of my writings.)  Non-whites in Ohio, Tennessee and other states simply cannot drive with more than a few dollars in the car because if they get stopped, the money is automatically seized as “drug money” even when there is ZERO evidence to support it.    The drug war claims if you are non-white, you can’t have cash on you or you are “guilty of something.”

Being Black (or Latino) while driving with cash is now a quasi-crime, and it is a disgusting and racist revenue practice of far too many law enforcement agencies.

This is the real face of your War on Drugs – blame minorities.  White people spend the majority of the money on drugs, yet enforcement is the domain of non-whites.     It is pretty sickening and even more sickening with this continuing as an acceptable law enforcement practice.

The WoD is just being positioned as “The New Jim Crow” in a lot of circles.    If you disagree, I recommend more reading on the subject.

Most arguments against cannabis legalization, regulation and taxation are based on myths or outright falsified information:
Marijuana is physically addictive – false.  Utterly false by numerous studies.
Marijuana lowers cognitive ability and destroys memory  – There is no proof of that at all, yet it is so easily repeated by the New Temperance League and the like.
Marijuana is a gateway drug – Proven false in dozens of studies, the real gateway to “hard drugs” is alcohol and nicotine.
Legalization would cause a raise in usage, especially in teenagers – completely false.   Portugal’s legalization is a case-study in successfully managing drug use.   In Portugal, all drugs were legalized for possession, and now Portugal (documented in published studies) has the lowest drug use, lowest alcohol use, lowest pharmaceutical use and lowest tobacco use by teenagers in the industrialized world.   The United States is one of the highest rates of teenage drug use. 

So how can you categorize the WoD policy here “a win” ? 

RAND Corporation and other studies show marijuana prohibition hurts states, governors and public budgets while handing billions to gangs and the Mexican Cartels.

Despite expert economic analysis from RAND and others, many people and politicians still cling to the claim that the Prohibition is not harming state governments and budgets throughout the western US.  That’s been repeatedly shown to be false. It is costing the states everything while handing fortunes to the cartels  (just like the Anti-Saloon League handed tens of millions to Al Capone and his ilk in the last Prohibition).

The War on Drugs and the prison population / prison care problems ARE DIRECTLY CORROLATED.

The plan of using the prison system as a gulag dumping ground for the War on Drugs policy has failed.    Both political parties scramble to convince us this prison population explosion (and the exploding costs to the taxpayers) happened all on its own and the fix is to spend EVEN MORE MONEY at more expensive per year per inmate private corporate prisons – the new corporate gulags for profit.  Is the government supposed to be in the business of creating more prisoners for private prison corporations???   How did that become a goal of governments throughout the land??

The city of San Leonardo is broke, has three bonds due, roads are deteriorating, and we are constantly being told the Chief does not have enough police officers.   We need revenue!!!    Where does the “magic money” come from???   Red light cameras?   Another sales tax increase? 
The potential revenue from managed cannabis as a local industry is amazing.     This is a fact of life the chiefs and sheriffs of Washington and Colorado have quickly come to terms with, and they are pleased that a real revenue allows them to go after real crime instead of dime bags, street dealers, and asset seizure cases.      

I support cultivation (with a sort of excise tax plan gaining revenue there) and a retail sales tax similar to Oakland’s taxation of Harborside Health Clinic.

Twenty years ago, while I was a peace officer and an undercover agent, both in the military and paramilitary, we did not enforce marijuana.  I am not kidding at all.    I was a semi-covert operative for the US Army.  Want to get laughed at by other investigators and special agents??   Try going undercover for a baggie of pot – that was a no-go.     In the Army, we considered marijuana use a “command problem” (like drinking too much on the weekends, something for your Captain, your company commander, to address, not a police issue).

At the Monterey Police, we did not care about marijuana.    Don’t do it in public was our stance.     “Not here,” “put that out,” or similar were the only enforcement actions.  Real crime took precedence in our duties. We did not consider marijuana a “real crime.”    I recently spoke to several of my comrades in the police.  One retired officer confessed to me, despite 24 years on the job in two different agencies, he never once wrote a ticket, never mind a case report for marijuana.

The managers of the police may have a “public persona” for political purposes with the community, but the rank and file peace officers have had the position and practice of something completely different for many, many, many years.

If the theocrats want the Prohibition and its costs, then they should buck up and start paying some taxes to fill the gap in the city’s coffers. As with the alcohol Prohibition of the last century (another total failure of policy), the religious groups spearheaded the efforts to stop OTHER PEOPLE from drinking or now smoking or eating some marijuana.

The whole effort by the theocrats was racist and based on economic class.   This is a proven historical fact now that the writings and audio copies of the Temperance Leagues  and the Anti-Saloon leagues are in the archives.   The efforts in the last Prohibition were as follows:  White, affluent, political-connected religious people can stockpile alcohol (and they did!  The Yale Club stockpiled an amazing THIRTY-FIVE years’ worth of booze prior to the Volstead Act being enacted) and they drank as much as they liked.   Poor, non-white immigrants (especially the Irish and Italians) and most definitely CATHOLICS should not drink.  That’s the real history in a nutshell.

That Prohibition and this Prohibition are based on racism and class-warfare, and they are dripping with hypocrisy.  Meanwhile, the Theocrats demand we spend more and more tax revenue (while they pay nothing into the system) on the failed policy of Prohibition and even promote raising our taxes more knowing they won’t pay a dime of that increase.  If the churches want political power and the “end say” in community policy, then start paying into the kitty or allow those with skin in the game (the taxpayers) to decide policy and its expense and costs to other community efforts.

I have simply had it with those who pay nothing into the system yet demand we waste resources on this stuff rather than gain a revenue stream to properly manage our city.     If they don’t want this revenue, they better cough up another revenue stream out of their own pockets, which does not involve jacking up my property taxes or the city’s sales tax yet again!

The worst part of the Theocrats’ actions last century?   Beer, wine and liquor excise taxes paid almost the entire federal budget.      With the Prohibition came a loss of that federal revenue and the introduction of the Federal Personal Income Tax – instead of taxing alcohol sales, it comes out of your paycheck now.     

We have to get police chiefs and sheriffs away from the unethical and broken funding of WoD asset seizures. I know the banks and corporations don’t want to pay any taxes into the system, but trying to replace that revenue with asset seizures has gotten corrupt, often pointless or misdirected, and is damaging law enforcement in the community’s eyes.  A straightforward taxation system, like alcohol sales, is obviously a better policy for the police and our community.

DUIs go up with marijuana legalization? Wrong, they go down.  Studies already show medical marijuana states are seeing decreases in DUIs.  The cops are catching drivers high on Ambien, Zanax and Oxy, yet spend all their time blaming pot.  Why?  It is an easy political target, even though the reality and the data are something completely different.

The militarization of local police is a symptom of the War on Drugs. Now every citizen is a threat.  Seriously, don’t run up to the cops asking for help, because under the militarization factors, you are a threat, you are always a threat.  Just this weekend, two cops gunned down an unarmed traffic accident victim.    Why?    Everyone, especially minorities, are drug users; all drug users are a threat; kill all threats immediately like Mayberry suddenly turned into Fallujah.    Two cops are now facing voluntary manslaughter charges.   Yes, there is a nexus between the War on Drugs, the militarization of the civilian local police and this guy getting shot to death because he was trying to get help after an accident.

Everyone is a suspect.  Everyone is a threat.   This needs to stop and fast.  Unless it is the political goal of chiefs and politicians alike to change America into Somalia with endless violence.

I am a medical marijuana patient and have been for more than five years. Since the city can’t be bothered constructing a properly lit and visible crosswalk, a car ran me down in front of Starbucks on MacArthur.  The injuries and subsequent problems are too vast to list, but I’m sure some of you have noticed a large portion of my forehead is missing and horribly scarred.  That’s from the accident along with a crushed rib cage, injured spine and neck, and various serious tissue damage.    How I survived the accident is unknown to my doctor or my surgeon.    I died after emergency surgery and had to be revived.    I live in severe pain from this accident.   Medical marijuana has been a savior for me.   After more than two years after the accident,  and after taking virtually every pharma drug they had to offer, I was actually getting worse and worse from the pharma drugs.      I went to my family doctor (not a Berkeley quack handing out scripts because you can spell “anxiety”), in tears, explained I was still in pain, suffering from horrible chronic insomnia and some pretty awful mood swings.  He asked me how I was dealing with the pain and other problems.  I told him honestly, “I go to the garage and smoke a joint and try to relax.”   He answered, without hesitation,  “Let me write you a note” (for medical marijuana).  Frankly, it was a life saver for me.

Conclusion: I am one of the very few people you will ever meet who has experienced the “War on Drugs” and the prohibition against marijuana from every single vantage point available.    I have reviewed and considered this issue as a father, a husband, a peace officer including being undercover and “in the game”, a businessman, a taxpayer, and as a pragmatic and active political blogger.    The policy that most people want to continue is based on myths and diatribes and some flat-out lies.       

People who claim we are protecting children with the Prohibition are completely out-of-touch with reality.  Are unlicensed street dealers checking kids’ ID cards?? Give me a break!     That’s like trying to convince me making alcohol illegal again would “protect children,” and that is utter nonsense by the facts and history at hand.

Spending money on enforcement goes against the “will of the people.”   Polls show Americans want this war to end just like they want all the other wars to come to an end.      This war effort has cost billions, and spending more at this point is just throwing good money over bad at the “problem.”  Except the establishment places the blame for the “problem,” caused by a lot of other things, on solely marijuana or marijuana users.  It is getting to be a broken record, repeating the disproven over and over again in an effort to promote failed, expensive and self-defeating public policy.

The police’s ONLY enforcement action should be assuring zoning and other ordinances are followed, that’s it.   Don’t like the house fires or commercial fires started by “illegal grow houses”?  Then zone them properly!!   Enforce the electrical code, the fire code, zoning, health, etc.    With zoning, allow cultivation under safe and proper ordinances and collect the tax revenue from those operations instead of spending endless tax dollars on a fight you have already proven you can’t win!

Since the late 1930s, how many search violent search warrants  were needed against Anheuser Busch or Seagram’s?? Eh?  Think about that for a second and ask yourself why aren’t the cops at war (and it was a war with all its violence in play) with distillers or breweries any longer?   We learned our lesson with alcohol, yet refuse to learn our lesson with marijuana, which is HARMLESS in comparison to alcohol.

Stop spending our community resources on the utterly failed policy which is the war on Drugs and the marijuana prohibition.

If you block this revenue potential for our city, then residents better be prepared for the highest tax rates in the state (and still not meeting our liabilities all the way) and nothing but increased costs for years to come.

Let cannabis be a normalized business in San Leandro, and let’s put an end to the expensive hypocrisy we have cornered ourselves into as of late with this failed enforcement policy.   

As a footnote, some law enforcement managers realize the dangers and failures of this policy.  You should listen to the more pragmatic and honest police leaders like Sheriff Urquhart  — .   He speaks honestly about the “wrong attitude” on this topic from a lot of folks within law enforcement.

Please enact measures to deal with the marijuana in a more sensible manner and within a legal framework to reduce violence in our society and minimize the corruption to law enforcement.

Please, please, please bring a reasonable policy and a revenue stream so desperately needed to our community.

 Gregg Daly’s blog is part of the San Leandro Patch.