Over 50 current, former law enforcement professionals sign letter urging Congress to decriminalize marijuana

Over 50 current, former law enforcement professionals sign letter urging Congress to decriminalize marijuana
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Over 50 current and former law enforcement professionals have signed onto a letter urging Congress to take swift action on legislation introduced last year that seeks to decriminalize marijuana and expunge past convictions. 

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The letter, which went out on Wednesday and is addressed to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Trump signs largely symbolic pre-existing conditions order amid lawsuit MORE (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Vulnerable Democrats tell Pelosi COVID-19 compromise 'essential' Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid MORE (D-Md.), calls on House lawmakers to “swiftly bring” the bill, dubbed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, to the floor for a vote next month. 

The bill, introduced by Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHundreds of lawyers from nation's oldest African American sorority join effort to fight voter suppression Biden picks up endorsement from progressive climate group 350 Action 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Schumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE (D-N.Y.) last summer, would, if passed, decriminalize marijuana, expunge certain marijuana offenses from people’s records and “provide for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs.”

The letter was signed by the National Black Police Association, Fair and Just Prosecution and Law Enforcement Action Partnership, in addition to dozens of current and former prosecutors, judges and police officers. Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx and Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith Maurice EllisonOfficers in George Floyd's death appear in court, motion for separate trials Ex-Minneapolis officer involved in Floyd death asks judge to dismiss murder charge Over 50 current, former law enforcement professionals sign letter urging Congress to decriminalize marijuana MORE (D) were among the list of signees.

The letter provides a number of reasons why the legislation should be passed, branding the measure as a chance “to repair and strengthen the relationships between us and the people we serve; to shift public resources toward the most serious crimes; to reduce the size and influence of the illicit market; and to usher in an era of health-centered approaches — rather than criminal punishment — for people who use drugs.”   

“A significant driver of public distrust in law enforcement is our focus on low-level marijuana arrests,” the letter states, while also arguing that relations between police and public would be better if the drug had “never been criminalized.”

It also argued that “resources used to enforce marijuana law violations could be shifted and used to more effectively tackle serious and violent crimes,” pointing to a past analysis from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) showing over 7 million people in the country were arrested for possession between 2001 and 2010.

The same analysis also showed that, despite Black and white people in the U.S. using marijuana at roughly the same rate at the time, Black people were almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. 

“Meanwhile, homicide and sex crimes units struggle to get evidence examined in a timely manner. While that evidence sits in storage for years collecting dust, predators roam free to harm more innocent people. This misallocation of resources is disgraceful. By legalizing marijuana at the federal level, we will send a message to every police department in this country about our real priorities,” the letter stated.

In its endorsement of the MORE Act, the letter states that the measure “provides a clear path forward that rights the wrongs of prohibition, and will significantly help law enforcement forge better relationships with the people we serve and bring justice to families of serious, violent crimes.”

If the bill makes it past the House, it’s unclear what chances it’ll face once it gets to the GOP-led Senate.

While pushing to legalize hemp in 2018, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power MORE (R-Ky.) said at the time that he had no "plans to endorse the legalization of marijuana" not long after Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed decriminalizing the drug then.