Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks!

We civilians know that marijuana legalization is moving along like a speeding freight train that simply can’t be stopped. More & more politicians and even police officers are seeing the light, but did you ever think you’d hear it from anyone in or near the DEA? I didn’t either, but I must tip my hat to Gary Hale. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from his recent op-ed …

Good governance is about good stewardship. Government executives always should consider how best to use the government’s vast assets, including personnel, money and materials. In this light, continued opposition by the Drug Enforcement Administration to the legalization of cannabis – marijuana – is not only a losing battle but a waste of taxpayer money, particularly when the president, Congress and an increasing number of state legislatures are responding to the will of the people by decriminalizing nonviolent marijuana use and possession. Our federal tax dollars would be better spent by responding to the current widespread increase of heroin use in ways that will prevent continued abuse, reduce harm to users and provide for greater public safety.

As a former DEA intelligence chief, I know that one of the tools policymakers in public safety and intelligence circles depend upon is predictive analysis, an over-the-horizon view of the landscape that enables them to allocate resources based on realistic threats. These analyses often involve the combination of hard numbers, such as dollars in the budget, and softer criteria that provide patterns and indicators needed to reach a strategic or policy decision. By using these same methods, an objective analyst can see a clearly emerging picture: Marijuana decriminalization and legalization have gone past being a trend and are settling in as federal policy, especially with costs outweighing the benefits of incarcerating so many otherwise nonviolent offenders.

The DEA is fighting an uphill battle by enforcing marijuana laws in the face of a new era of understanding, education and public sentiment, all of which represent a complete U-turn from long-held beliefs regarding the substance. The agency in which I worked for 31 years, many of them at a high level, must accept that the American people simply do not wish to have our federal government continue to spend time, money and resources fighting marijuana possession and use, especially in light of convincing evidence that cannabis provides alternative medicinal choices for epileptics, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, those suffering the pains of cancer and others.

Notwithstanding the enormous contributions the DEA has made to public safety since its inception in 1973, it is time for it to realign its strategic thinking and adjust its policies to adopt this new paradigm.

Read the whole article here: Houston Chronicle