Local, state and federal law enforcement officers will gather May 10-13 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego to begin "organizing" this year's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), which has failed annually since 1983 to achieve its stated goal: reducing cannabis use and availability by "eradicating" illegal grow sites.
Yes, every single year -- all 27 of them, so far -- CAMP has failed miserably in its quixotic quest as marijuana became more and more available.
The waste, arrogance and abuse associated with the program -- which has unfortunately become the largest law enforcement task force in the United States, with more than 110 agencies taking part -- have become legendary.
Ordinary families have been terrorized by paramilitary units, peaceful homeowners have been repeatedly buzzed by low-flying helicopters, and community relations between citizens and law enforcement have suffered almost everywhere CAMP has laid its heavy hand.
Good thing all of this foolishness is done at taxpayer expense, to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. Good thing California's treasury is in healthy shape, flush with all that extra cash. Oh, wait...
On Monday, at a press conference at the hotel where CAMP "strategizes" (picture a bunch of obnoxious, overweight law enforcement types congratulating each other on their imagined "defeat" of pot, drinking heavily all the while), marijuana advocates will call on government to end this wasteful and doomed policy.
The wisdom of CAMP is, even more than ever before, being called into question this year as Californians prepare to vote on a November ballot initiative that would end the state's prohibition on adult marijuana use.
"These so-called 'eradication' efforts have had zero effect on marijuana use, availability, or price, but once again, California law enforcement agencies are perfectly content to throw more tax money down the CAMP rabbit hole," said Aaron Smith, California policy director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
Think about it: After 27 years of abject failure, why are CAMP agents still getting paid? In a more sane society, they would have long ago had to find real jobs.
"It's time to stop this insanity of repeating the futile exercise of CAMP and instead replace marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation," Smith said. "Only then will we be able to eliminate the clandestine marijuana plantations -- just as the repeal of alcohol prohibition did away with the bootleggers of that era."
"It's no coincidence that drug cartels don't plant vineyards or hops fields in our national forests," Smith added.
WHAT: Press conference to call for an effective marijuana policy and an end to eradication campaigns
WHEN: Monday, May 10, 11 a.m.
WHERE: U.S. Grant Hotel, Sycuan Parlor, 326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
WHO: Speakers who will question the wisdom behind CAMP will include:
• Leo Laurence, a retired deputy sheriff and former legal researcher for the San Diego County District Attorney's office, now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
• The Rev. Canon Mary Moreno-Richardson, an Episcopal priest and coordinator for Hispanic Ministries at St. Paul's Cathedral in San Diego, who has worked extensively to prevent violence in the community and help at-risk youth.
By Steve Elliott
May 7, 2010
Toke of the Town