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Sonoma County Gazette
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OPINION - Law Enforcement's Role in Cannabis Policy

Aug 31, 2017


My Position on CANNABIS is clear - we need a Sheriff who Reflects our Community's Values.

The growth, distribution, and sale of legalized cannabis in Sonoma County is an increasingly important area that the county is working to integrate within our current economic structure. Cannabis in particular has the rare distinction of going from an illegal status to that of a legal, controlled substance similar to alcohol.

I believe that it is the purview of the Sheriff’s Office to ensure the safety of the community, not to wage a “war on drugs,” which is really just a war on people. Having grown up with a mother who was mentally ill and struggled with self-medicating addictions, I’ve seen firsthand that substance abuse is best addressed as a public health issue. Arrest and incarceration do little to reduce the activity of drug sales or use and often times create more disparity and disruption to the families that need support services.

It is not the responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office to serve as a tool of agricultural corporations who may wish to use law enforcement as a means to drive competitors out of the market. How Sonoma County wishes to integrate cannabis into our current agricultural and professional profile is a matter for voters and local leaders. The Sheriff's duty is to uphold the laws developed.

One of our greatest challenges is educating our communities, policy-makers, and elected officials on the proper use of local law enforcement when creating new regulations concerning the appropriate management of cannabis. Does the county want regulations making it easier or harder for local operators to grow and distribute cannabis? That’s not for the Sheriff’s Office to decide. The Sheriff should be involved in the same manner as that of alcohol use and distribution, with priority placed on community safety, not on writing regulations.

Meanwhile, the current federal administration under President Trump is signaling a crackdown based on outdated federal drug laws, leaving many in local government searching for answers. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is urging local law enforcement to take a tougher stance against cannabis production and distribution. As Sheriff, I would be against assisting any federal agencies when it comes to violating California and local laws on cannabis. Another side effect of the Federal government's stance on legal cannabis is the prohibition of allowing our banking institutions to accept cannabis money, creating targets in our community for burglaries and robberies, this new industry will need security services and patrol services like any other high commodity business in our county.

Our county has many challenges ahead when it comes to implementing new cannabis policies. It will take all leadership and perspectives at the table working together to streamline an effective implementation of state and local regulations. I will lead the Sheriff’s department in a constructive direction, helping with the enforcement of those policies that reflect our local community’s values.

All of my policy statements are on my webpage:




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