California’s police and prison guards are heavily funding an effort to oppose the upcoming marijuana legalization ballot measure. Various groups and PACs representing law enforcement and prison staff account for approximately half of a legalization opposition known as the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies, according to a report from The Intercept. The CRDP raised $60,000 in the first three months of the year.

While the source of the money is public record, these groups’ motives are not. But we can, and do, make an educated guess: they do it for money. We concur with Intercept’s theory that the police want to hold onto the “[h[uge government grants and asset-seizure windfalls” that they receive to combat illegal cannabis dealers, while prison guards’ jobs are assured by a steady rate of drug convictions.

Fighting to keep their fellow man incarcerated for their own financial gain sounds over-the-top evil, but check out the extremely flimsy excuse one group is using to explain why they’re trying to quash cannabis legalization:

“The membership of the CCSO opposes the full-blown legalization of marijuana,” lobbyist Paul Curry, who represents the California Correctional Supervisors Association, told Intercept. Curry alleges that prison guard supervisors are choosing to put their hard-earned money toward this cause, as opposed to say, fighting cancer or homelessness, because they don’t believe that our society should encourage cannabis consumption.

“If marijuana is not a dangerous drug, the federal government would have made a change, but the fact remains that it’s a federal crime,” Curry said, using logic about as strong as saying that slavery must have been sensible in the early century because, if it wasn’t, the federal government obviously would have added an amendment sooner.

(Incidentally, slavery isn’t too far off from what’s happening in many of America’s prisons, where non-violent drug crime-convicted prisoners are paid as little as 17 cents an hour to manufacture goods for privatized prisons. If you want to see another case of seriously corrupt interest in blocking cannabis legalization, check out our piece on the connection between prisons and the supposedly do-gooder, anti-marijuana group Safe Streets Alliance.)

There’s another big financial incentive for California cops to keep making marijuana arrests. Civil forfeiture, which allows police to seize cash and possessions from suspects, even when these suspects are never even charged with a crime, earned California law enforcement an average of $18 million per year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Luckily for humanity in California, stoners are a little less stingy than cops when it comes to charitable donations. So far legalization support has raised about $2.25 million, 40 times as much money as the anti-legalization folks have, so it looks like cops and corrections officers might have thrown all that money away. Too bad.


Photo “Oakland, 2010” via Flickr user Thomas Hawk