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Article posted Mar 07 2012, 4:25 PM Category: Politics/Corruption Source: Republic Report Print

Why Can't You Smoke Pot? Because Lobbyists Are Getting Rich Off of the War on Drugs

by Lee Fang

John Lovell is a lobbyist who makes a lot of money from making sure you canít smoke a joint. Thatís his job. Heís a lobbyist for the police unions in Sacramento, and he is a driving force behind grabbing Federal dollars to shut down the California marijuana industry. Iíll get to the evidence on this important story in a bit, but first, some context.

At some point in the distant past, the war on drugs might have been popular. But not anymore ó the polling is clear, but beyond that, the last three Presidents have used illegal drugs. So why do we still put hundreds of thousands of people in steel cages for pot-related offenses? Well, there are many reasons, but one of them is, of course, money in politics. Corruption. Whatever you want to call it, itís why you canít smoke a joint without committing a crime, though of course you can ingest any number of pills or drinks completely within the law.

Some of the groups who want to keep the drug illegal are police unions that want more members to pay more dues. One of the primary sources for cash for more policing activities are Federal grants for penalizing illegal drug use, which help pay for overtime, additional police officers, and equipment for the force. Thatís what Lovell does, he gets those grants. He also fights against democratic mechanisms to legalize drugs.

In 2010, California considered Prop 19, a measure to legalize marijuana and tax it as alcohol. The proposition gained more votes than Meg Whitman, the former eBay executive and Republican gubernatorial nominee that year, but failed to pass. Opponents of the initiative ran ads, organized rallies, and spread conspiracy theories about billionaire George Soros to confuse voters.

Lovell managed the opposition campaign against Prop 19. He told Time Magazine that he was pushing against the initiative because, ďthe last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized.Ē

But Republic Report reviewed lobbying contracts during the Prop 19 fight, and found that Lovellís firm was paid over $386,350 from a wide array of police unions, including the California Police Chiefs Association.

While Lovell may contend that he sincerely opposes the idea of marijuana legalization, he has constructed an entire business model predicated on pot prohibition.

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