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August 30, 2013
Another View: Police not alone against bad pot bill

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(Aug. 30 -- By Kim Raney, Special to The Bee)

In a Viewpoints column ("Do police chiefs just enforce the law? At the Capitol, they write it," Aug. 23) retired Lt. Diane Goldstein of the Redondo Beach Police Department criticizes the California Police Chiefs Association. We want to set the record straight.

The California Police Chiefs Association provides law enforcement protection for 78 percent of Californians. We have a fiduciary duty to our communities to be smart about deployment, to work collaboratively with other service and intervention providers, and to speak up when the state Legislature is considering legislation affecting those communities. Police chiefs are an informed voice of public safety in California. When legislation is introduced we evaluate each bill to determine its impact on public safety. It may be possible to write a good medical marijuana law, and we stand ready to help, but Senate Bill 439 fails to address serious public safety concerns.

Public safety strategies involve prevention, intervention, and enforcement. Accordingly, we are proud to have strongly supported Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's landmark mental health law, Proposition 63. We support Sen. Jim Beall's mental health parity bill, SB 22, and we support Sen. Kevin de Leon's Senate Bill 53, regulating ammunition purchases.

Our positions on bills reflect policy, not personal relationships. As much as we supported Steinberg's Proposition 63, we are equally opposed to his Senate Bill 439, which will prevent cities from using public nuisance actions against marijuana dispensaries.

We are not alone in opposing this bill: In addition to virtually all law enforcement groups, former U.S. Rep Patrick Kennedy, former Obama administration drug policy advisor Dr. Kevin Sabet, distinguished addiction medicine psychiatrist Dr. Ed Gogek, the 4,000 inner-city pastors who constitute the International Faith Based Coalition and the California Psychiatrists Association have all joined the police chiefs in opposing SB 439.

This diverse coalition has come together because SB 439 enables marijuana stores to enrich themselves. Massive medical marijuana recommendation fraud is unaddressed by this bill, despite evidence that there are doctors giving recommending prescriptions via videoconferencing in 42-second time intervals. SB 439 also fails to address the fact that marijuana dispensaries are in the vicinity of residential areas and are another source of robberies, murders and illegal drug dealing. This is why over 200 cities in California have banned marijuana dispensaries.

We stand ready to work with the legislature to compose a bill that addresses these concerns while meeting the needs of legitimate medical marijuana users.

Kim Raney is the police chief in Covina and the current president of the CA Police Chiefs Association.

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