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JAMES MCLYNAS FOR SHERIFF OF PINELLAS COUNTY FLORIDA

ENDING CANNABIS ENFORCEMENT AND SCALING BACK


THE WAR ON DRUGS

It is a well-known fact that marijuana enforcement was based on racism and


political control as evidenced by the audio tapes of Richard Nixon explaining his
reasoning for initiating the widespread criminalization of cannabis. It is the only
Schedule 1 “narcotic” that has never killed a single person. More people have
died drinking milk, eating peanuts or struck by lightning.

Yet, in the last three decades, millions of Americans have been arrested and jailed
and had their lives and their family’s lives ruined over this benign plant so that
government could strip them of their rights and rob them of their money.
Thousands more have been killed by police during traffic stops, raids and other
marijuana enforcement actions. Furthermore, dozens of officers have been killed
during these same traffic stops, raids and marijuana enforcement actions. All over
a plant. This needs to stop now.

Here in Pinellas County, approximately 35% of the Sheriff’s budget and a large
part of the criminal justice budget is being wasted on the investigation, arrest,
prosecution and incarceration of Pinellas Citizens for possession and use of a
natural plant. This amounts to hundreds of millions of wasted taxpayer resources
to “protect” the citizens from a non-existent harm. This misguided focus of law
enforcement resources currently leaves about 80% of the crimes reported to the
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office each year “unsolved”, including rapes, crimes
against children and other violent crimes with real victims. There are no criminal
victims with cannabis use.

Furthermore, the current enforcement paradigm at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s


Office has thousands of manhours and millions of tax dollar resources being
expended to fabricate and create fictitious traffic stops with the full intent of
them culminating in a complete search of the subject vehicle in order to search
for drugs and arrest the occupants. These searches are a violation of the 4th
Amendment and a risk of mortal danger to both the stopped occupants of the
vehicle and the officers themselves. This also results in over-policing and ongoing
policing for profit. I personally feel that these wasted resources can better serve
the community to go after violent criminals with real victims to make Pinellas
County safer.

As Sheriff of Pinellas County Florida in 2020, I have the legal right and the
authority to direct PCSO resources in a manner that I feel best serves the people
of our county. Keeping with that objective, as Sheriff I will end all cannabis
enforcement the day I take office. Cannabis will be treated like any other plant
material and there will be zero investigations, arrests or prosecutions for cannabis
by the PCSO.

As many people are finding out, cannabis has many healing and “quality of life”
benefits that are being wrongfully withheld from a free people. Florida
government refuses to yield even though the people of Florida and here in
Pinellas County have overwhelmingly expressed through their voices and votes,
support for the abolishment of cannabis prohibition.

ENDING THE INCARERATION FOR MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS

As Sheriff of Pinellas County, I would also have full jurisdiction over the Pinellas
County Jail. As such, I would work to immediately release every single inmate at
the PCSO jail being held on only a marijuana or a drug paraphernalia charge. I
cannot see the wisdom of wasting millions in tax based revenue to cage people
over such a victimless offenses.

Additionally, I will prohibit the PCSO jail from accepting any inmate from other
police agencies such as Clearwarer PD or St. Pete PD. If they want to keep
arresting people over a plant, then they can figure out where to cage them
because I will not take part in caging people over a plant, which is in direct
contradiction to the Sheriff’s legal mandate to “keep the peace”.
Benefits of Ending Cannabis Enforcement

The most obvious benefit is the end of ruining people’s lives and families over a
plant. However, far beyond that is the massive potential benefit that cannabis
freedom can have on a community such as;

a. Helping to alleviate the opiate crisis and preventing overdose deaths,


b. Allowing the elderly to literally grow their own medicine in their own
gardens without the high costs of current prescriptions,
c. Allowing citizens a more cost effective manner of obtaining relief from
hundreds of medical conditions without the ludicrous expense and “fees”
heaped upon them by government intervention,
d. Reducing DUI deaths, accidents and alcoholism and the huge burden this
imposes on society, and
e. Reducing violent crime from drug dealers capitalizing on the government’s
prohibition. If everyone that wants it, has it and everyone can grow it there
will be little value in it.
f. There will be savings of literally hundreds of millions of dollars in tax
revenue currently being wasted on stopping, searching, investigating,
arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people over a benign plant with
proven medical benefits.

Beyond the obvious direct benefits of ending cannabis enforcement, there are
also other economic benefits to ending cannabis enforcement in Pinellas County.
I estimate that within two short years of ending the war on a plant, that tourism
in Pinellas County will potentially double its current levels all year around bringing
millions upon millions of dollars into the Pinellas County economy.

This will result in more jobs, better paying jobs, more tax income for the county,
higher property values and less taxes for our citizens. It is also my opinion that
once setting the example for the rest of Florida, other Sheriff’s Candidates will
offer the same benefits in other counties and states.

The law enforcement community claimed that there would be chaos, people
smashing cars all over the place and as Sheriff Gualtieri put it, “clouds of
marijuana smoke” he would have to pass through entering Starbucks if medical
marijuana passed. Of course, none of that happened. In states where
recreational marijuana is legal, there have been no spikes in accidents, traffic
deaths or any other negative impacts on those states. It was all a lie to scare
people in allowing them to continue the war on a plant to feed the “for profit”
prison systems.

ENDING BOGUS TRAFFIC STOPS AS A PRETEXT FOR AN


UNCONSITUTIONAL SEARCH

In many police jurisdictions a pattern of drug enforcement actions have


developed that are designed to violate the Fourth Amendment rights of American
citizens. Here in Pinellas County, citizens are being pulled over for minor traffic
infractions (and in many cases, literally made up infractions) with the intention of
conducting an illegal search of the vehicle in hopes of making an arrest. These
stops include window tint, license lights, something hanging from a mirror or
other insignificant violations. I had a middle age woman tell me recently that she
was pulled over as she left the bank for a tag that was three days expired. She
forgot it renewed on her birthday. The deputy immediately asked if he could
search her car for a reason to arrest her. This has to stop.

These bogus traffic stops are often followed by a “I smell marijuana” or a dog is
brought in that is trained to give a false alert allowing a full search of the vehicle.
Violence is often initiated by officers against the occupants of these cars, causing
anger and mistrust between police and the people of Pinellas County. Police have
killed literally hundreds of Americans during similar bogus traffic stops. These
tactics are also used to target minorities causing even more distrust in those
communities.

It will be my position as Sheriff that these kinds of stops are a violation of the
United States Constitution. It will also be my position that these types of stops
unnecessarily expose citizens to potential violence, injury and death at the hands
of police, and police to the same from citizens. The risk of injury and death to
both citizens and officers is just not worth it. It is also my position that these stops
are an unjust harassment by police against their own community.

ENDING THE ARREST AND INCARCERATION OVER MINOR


PERSONAL USE DRUG OFFENSES

Additionally, as Sheriff, I will no longer authorize Pinellas deputies to arrest


anyone for minor amounts of personal use drugs of any type or drug
paraphernalia. There is not a single doctor or medical professional on the planet
that will tell you that addiction is cured by an arrest. There are, however, many
that will tell you that thousands of overdose deaths occur when an addicted
person is released from prison after going without drugs for a prolonged period of
incarceration. The arrests and incarcerations literally serve no purpose.

When Pinellas deputies happen to encounter someone with a small amount of


personal use drugs, those people will be invited to take advantage of one of the
many treatment programs that will be available in Pinellas County, funded in part
by the money saved from ending cannabis enforcement.

A Sheriff’s main mandate is to “keep the peace”. I personally can’t see anything
peaceful about cannabis enforcement nor can I see any benefit of continuing
these practices.