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ENDING CANNABIS ENFORCEMENT AND SCALING BACK

THE WAR ON DRUGS

It is a well-known fact that marijuana enforcement was based on racism


and political control as evidenced by the audio tapes of Richard Nixon
explaining his reasoning for initiating the widespread criminalization of
cannabis. It is the only Schedule 1 “narcotic” that has never killed a single
person. More people have died drinking milk, eating peanuts or struck by
lightning.

Yet, in the last three decades, millions of Americans have been arrested and
jailed and had their lives and their family’s lives ruined over this benign
plant so that government could strip them of their rights and rob them of
their money. Thousands more have been killed by police during traffic
stops, raids and other marijuana enforcement actions. Furthermore,
dozens of officers have been killed during these same traffic stops, raids
and marijuana enforcement actions. All over a plant. This needs to stop
now.

Here in Pinellas County, approximately 35% of the Sheriff’s budget and a


large part of the criminal justice budget is being wasted on the
investigation, arrest, prosecution and incarceration of Pinellas Citizens for
possession and use of a natural plant. This amounts to hundreds of millions
of wasted taxpayer resources to “protect” the citizens from a non-existent
harm. This misguided focus of law enforcement resources currently leaves
about 80% of the crimes reported to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
each year “unsolved”, including rapes, crimes against children and other
violent crimes with real victims. There are no criminal victims with cannabis
use.

Furthermore, the current enforcement paradigm at the Pinellas County


Sheriff’s Office has thousands of manhours and millions of tax dollar
resources being expended to fabricate and create fictitious traffic stops
with the full intent of them culminating in a complete search of the subject
vehicle in order to search for drugs and arrest the occupants. These
searches are a violation of the 4th Amendment and a risk of mortal danger
to both the stopped occupants of the vehicle and the officers themselves.
This also results in over-policing and ongoing policing for profit. I
personally feel that these wasted resources can better serve the
community to go after violent criminals with real victims to make Pinellas
County safer.

As Sheriff of Pinellas County Florida in 2020, I have the legal right and the
authority to direct PCSO resources in a manner that I feel best serves the
people of our county. Keeping with that objective, as Sheriff I will end all
cannabis enforcement the day I take office. Cannabis will be treated like
any other plant material and there will be zero investigations, arrests or
prosecutions for cannabis by the PCSO.

As many people are finding out, cannabis has many healing and quality of
life benefits that are being wrongfully withheld from a free people. Florida
government refuses to yield even though the people of Florida and here in
Pinellas County have overwhelmingly expressed through their votes,
support for the abolishment of cannabis prohibition.

ENDING THE INCARERATION FOR MARIJUANA


CONVICTIONS

As Sheriff of Pinellas County, I would also have full jurisdiction over the
Pinellas County Jail. As such, I would work to immediately release every
single inmate at the PCSO jail being held on only a marijuana or a drug
paraphernalia charge. I cannot see the wisdom of wasting millions in tax
based revenue to cage people over such a victimless offenses.

Additionally, I will prohibit the PCSO jail from accepting any inmate from
other police agencies such as Clearwarer PD or St. Pete PD. If they want to
keep arresting people over a plant, then they can figure out where to cage
them because I will not take part in caging people over a plant.
Benefits of Ending Cannabis Enforcement

The most obvious benefit is the end of ruining people’s lives and families
over a plant. However, far beyond that is the massive potential benefit that
cannabis freedom can have on a community such as;

a. Helping to alleviate the opiate crisis and preventing overdose deaths,


b. Allowing the elderly to literally grow their own medicine in their own
gardens without the high cost of current prescriptions,
c. Allowing citizens a more cost effective manner of obtaining relief
from hundreds of medical conditions without the ludicrous expense
and “fees” heaped upon them by government intervention,
d. Reducing DUI deaths, accidents and alcoholism and the huge burden
this imposes on society, and
e. Reducing violent crime from drug dealers capitalizing on the
government’s prohibition. If everyone that wants it, has it and
everyone can grow it there will be little value in it.
f. There will be savings of literally hundreds of millions of dollars in tax
revenue currently being wasted on stopping, searching, investigating,
arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people over a benign plant
with proven medical benefits.

Beyond the obvious direct benefits of ending cannabis enforcement, there


are also other economic benefits to ending cannabis enforcement in
Pinellas County. I estimate that within two short years of ending the war
on a plant, that tourism in Pinellas County will potentially double it’s
current levels all year around bringing millions upon millions of dollars into
the Pinellas County economy.

This will result in more jobs, better paying jobs, more tax income for the
county, higher property values and less taxes for our citizens. It is also my
opinion that once setting the example for the rest of Florida, other Sheriff’s
Candidates will offer the same benefits in other counties.
The law enforcement community claimed that there would be chaos,
people smashing cars all over the place and as Sheriff Gualtieri put it,
“clouds of marijuana smoke” he would have to pass through entering
Starbucks if medical marijuana passed. Of course, none of that happened.
In states where recreational marijuana is legal, there have been no spikes in
accidents, traffic deaths or any other negative impacts on those states. It
was all a lie to scare people in allowing them to continue the war on a plant
to feed the “for profit” prison systems.

ENDING BOGUS TRAFFIC STOPS AS A PRETEXT FOR AN


UNCONSITUTIONAL SEARCH

In many police jurisdictions a pattern of drug enforcement actions have


developed that are designed to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of
American citizens. Here in Pinellas County, citizens are being pulled over for
minor traffic infractions (and in many cases, literally made up infractions)
with the intention of conducting an illegal search of the vehicle in hopes of
making an arrest. These stops include window tint, license lights,
something hanging from a mirror or other insignificant violations. I had a
middle age woman tell me recently that she was pulled over as she left the
bank for a tag that was three days expired. She forgot it renewed on her
birthday. The deputy immediately asked if he could search her car for a
reason to arrest her. This has to stop.

These bogus traffic stops are often followed by a “I smell marijuana” or a


dog is brought in that is trained to give a false alert allowing a full search of
the vehicle. Violence is often initiated by officers against the occupants of
the car, causing anger and mistrust between police and the people of
Pinellas County. Police have killed literally hundreds of Americans during
similar bogus traffic stops. These tactics are also used to target minorities
causing even more distrust in those communities.

It will be my position as Sheriff that these kinds of stops are a violation of


the United States Constitution. It will also be my position that these types
of stops unnecessarily expose citizens to potential violence, injury and
death at the hands of police, and police to the same from citizens. The risk
of injury and death to both citizens and officers is just not worth it. It is also
my position that these stops are an unjust harassment by police against
their own community.

ENDING THE ARREST AND INCARCERATION OVER MINOR


PERSONAL USE DRUG OFFENSES

Additionally, as Sheriff, I will no longer authorize Pinellas deputies to arrest


anyone for minor amounts of personal use drugs of any type, or drug
paraphernalia. There is not a single doctor or medical professional on the
planet that will tell you that addiction is cured by an arrest. There are,
however, many that will tell you that thousands of overdose deaths occur
when an addicted person is released from prison after going without drugs
for a prolonged period of incarceration. The arrest and incarceration
literally serves no purpose.

When Pinellas deputies happen to encounter someone with a small amount


of personal use drugs, those people will be invited to take advantage of one
of the many treatment programs that will be available in Pinellas County,
funded in part by the money saved from ending cannabis enforcement.

A Sheriff’s main mandate is to “keep the peace”. I personally can’t see


anything peaceful about cannabis enforcement nor can I see any benefit of
continuing these practices.