Despite legalization, Colorado cops ask for more money for marijuana enforcement

Greg Campbell | Contributor

Cops in Colorado are feeling left out of the legal-pot tax revenue bonanza and have asked Gov. John Hickenlooper for more money to enforce marijuana laws.

Although they’re no longer chasing down and arresting adults for minor possession, cultivation and use of marijuana, Colorado’s police chiefs claim they need more cash to learn how to spot stoned drivers, pay for “oral fluid testing” equipment to be used at DUI stops and to create a database of marijuana-related crime.

“Many of our local law enforcement agencies have diverted staff from other operations into marijuana enforcement, leaving gaps in other service areas as a direct result of marijuana legalization,” according to a letter from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, which was first reported in the Denver Post.

Since pot was legalized in Colorado in 2012, an average of 600 fewer people have been arrested per month on possession charges, according to the Colorado Judicial Branch. And a 2010 research paper  by the Cato Institute estimated that Colorado spent $1.3 billion per year enforcing marijuana laws that no longer exist.

But Colorado police chiefs want a piece of the estimated $133 million tax revenue that legal pot sales are expected to generate. Gov. John Hickenlooper earmarked the bulk of those funds for drug rehab and education efforts. Only $3 million is proposed to be spent on law enforcement and public safety, according to the Post.

“Any police force spending more resources on marijuana enforcement now that it is legal should be audited to determine how those resources are being spent, what is being accomplished, and whether other types of crimes are being adequately addressed,” said Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert in an email to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Voters approved Amendment 64 because they wanted law enforcement officials to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, not because they wanted even more resources to be flushed down the toilet on marijuana enforcement,” he said.

“It almost seems like these guys are jonesing to continue arresting and punishing people for marijuana-related offenses.”

The state, however, seems inclined to let the cops make their case. In an email responding to the letter, Public Safety Director Jim Davis asked for a meeting to discuss the matter, according to the Post.

“We are confident that once we fully understand the needs and plans, we can submit and support supplemental funding requests,” Davis wrote.

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