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California marijuana legalization supported by law enforcement leaders

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The majority of Californians are ready to legalize cannabis, but the state’s law enforcement officials remain divided.

While many involved in law enforcement naturally oppose marijuana law reform, some leaders believe legalization would be beneficial to the state, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Former LAPD deputy chief Steve Downing stood alongside Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday for the campaign launch of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, a legalization initiative headed to the November election ballot.

“The war on drugs was a failure, I should know as I once led it,” Downing said to the LA Times. “Our policies have done more harm to people and community than marijuana. We demonize people. We unnecessarily criminalized people.”

Downing continued to describe why keeping pot illegal actually fuels crime:

“Marijuana’s continued criminalization benefits the cartels, street gangs — they are the ones regulating it now. When prohibition on alcohol ended it killed off the businesses of men like Al Capone. The same will happen here.”

Downing isn’t the only voice in law enforcement speaking in favor of marijuana law reform, although others remain a bit more cautious.

“It must avoid the mistakes in Washington state and Colorado,” said San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon, a former SF police chief and LAPD assistant chief, to the Times.

Despite the opinions from their peers, law enforcement officials from Orange County, Los Angeles, and the California Police Chiefs Association have already announced their opposition to the bill.