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AACOP: Legalized Marijuana Will Not Stop Drug Cartels


AACOP urges Alaskans to vote no on ballot measure 2

Recent reports from Colorado law enforcement indicate that the legalization of marijuana has not reduced illicit sales on the black market there as proponents had predicted. In particular, black market dealers continue to sell to youth, and Lieutenant Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs Police Department vice and narcotics unit reported to the Associated Press that marijuana legalization has “done nothing more than enhance the opportunity for the black market” ( http://bigstory.ap.org/article/legal-pot-colorado-hasnt-stopped-black-market ). The Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police (AACOP) is concerned that Alaskans are being misled about the potential impacts legalized marijuana would have on law enforcement, public safety and the street market in Alaska.

“Proponents have argued that legalizing marijuana will take profits away from the black market and put that money into the pockets of the state, but we anticipate that street sales will continue to thrive,” said Kalie Klaysmat, executive director of the Alaskan Association of Chiefs of Police (ACCOP). “In fact, in many ways, legalization would help street dealers do their business because by avoiding the taxes imposed on legal sales they could increase their profit while still undercutting legitimate prices.”

An annual RAND report from 2012 showed that Mexican drug trafficking groups only received a minority of their revenue from marijuana ( http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP325.html ). For them, the big money is found in illegal activities such as human trafficking, extortion, piracy and other illicit drugs. Legalizing marijuana will not make these groups disappear. There is evidence that cartels are already heavily involved in some legal retail marijuana shops in Colorado, continuing to profit off the substance. An August 2014 report (linked below) prepared by the Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program lists several examples of current, large scale organized crime and cartel activities linked to Colorado marijuana production and sales.  HIDTA is part of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Crime associated with the black market continues to be a problem in Colorado. According to reports from District Attorney George Brachler to the Associated Press, Arapahoe County near Denver has seen a growing number of drug rips and outright burglaries and robberies of people who have large amounts of marijuana or cash on them. 

For Alaska, ACCOP has estimated that legalization of marijuana could cost taxpayers $6 million in increased public safety costs alone. This does not include the costs of regulation and associated bureaucracy, or the increased downstream costs to healthcare, social services, and workforce productivity and accidents. AACOP believes Alaskans need to consider the many and varied risks of legalized marijuana when voting on the ballot measure in November, and encourages all citizens to vote no on 2. 

The Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police was established as a voice to represent  law enforcement executives in Alaska. Their mission is to enhance the quality and effectiveness of Alaska’s criminal justice system.

Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program August 2014 marijuana legalization report link: 

Please contact AACOP’s Executive Director Kalie Klaysmat

Email: AACOP@AACOP.org


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