Speaking as a retired detective, I heartily agree with Dan Rodricks' observation that Maryland police officers want — a little too much — to maintain marijuana prohibition ("The social fears behind the pot wars," Feb. 27). Based on my 17 years of involvement in reform, the last eight on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist and advocate, my profession has three reasons to keep marijuana illegal: money, money and emotion.

Police make lots of money in the easy overtime for the minor bust and drug squads and receive lots of "free" money from the federal and state governments to chase a green plant. Civil asset forfeiture is an important and growing factor in police budgets. Drug cases actually bring money into the department, whereas arresting a pedophile is a drain on the budget.

But here's where emotion comes into play: It will be traumatic for many officers to accept the reality that their colleagues who have been hurt or killed in drug cases suffered for an evil, ineffective and failed social policy. Officers in Colorado and Washington already know this pain.

Howard J. Wooldridge, Adamstown

The writer is co-founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

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