Here's the video, and below that is a copy of Matthew's written testimony.
Testimony on B18-622: Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010
Council of the District of Columbia
Committee on Health and Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Matthew F. Fogg,
Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal, ret.
on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Council members, thank you for allowing me to testify at this joint session of the Committee on Health and the Committee on Public Safety concerning the Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative Amendment Act of 2010.
My name is Matthew Fogg. I am a lifelong resident of Washington, D.C. Over the course of my career as a Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal ultimately ending with the title of Chief Deputy, I received the District of Columbia, U.S. Attorney and Federal Bar Association's highest law enforcement awards for tracking down over 300 of America's most-wanted and dangerous fugitives. I was also cross designated as Supervisory Special Agent for the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Washington, DC - Metropolitan Area Task Force (MATF) and nominated for the Outstanding Contribution to Narcotics Enforcement award by a Tactical Officer or Investigator. To make a long story short, my direct observation of the racist and ineffective nature of our drug laws led me to be here representing Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization of current and former members of the law enforcement including judges and prosecutors in criminal justice communities nationwide who are speaking out about the failures of our existing national drug policies. I am here today representing over 16,000 members and supporters of LEAP.
As a member of law enforcement, I am focusing my comments on issues of public safety. This bill does not have provisions for police training and procedures. A lack of structure for police has led to huge problems in other states which passed medical marijuana laws. We should learn from this and institute consistent methods to reach the common goals of using police resources wisely and keeping the citizens of DC, including patients, safe. I recommend that the police department training materials be updated to reflect the passage of the bill within six months after it becomes effective. All Federal, State and Municipal police personnel should have access to these updated materials.
It should be specified in the bill that patients, their caregivers, and medical cannabis dispensing collectives who come into contact with law enforcement will not be cited or arrested, and dried cannabis or cannabis plants in their possession will not be seized, if they are in compliance with the provisions under the law.
If the patient, caregiver, or dispensing collective cannot establish or demonstrate their status as falling into these groups, but are otherwise in compliance with the provisions of the medical cannabis law, then they should be given a chance to provide proof of status before being cited or arrested or having their cannabis seized.
I would recommend that the bill specify that medical cannabis-related activities should be the lowest possible priority of the Police Department, in order to free officers’ time and resources for attention to violent crime.
I would like to also comment on the provision of the bill that excludes anyone with a misdemeanor drug conviction or any felony conviction from owning or working at a dispensary. I strongly disagree with this exclusion as unnecessary and biased. I have personal experience with the very real racial disparities governing just who is targeted by the laws and criminal justice system. I recall specifically during my tenure on the DEA MATF we were persuaded to target inner city area violators who often had less resources and abilities to defend prosecution and turned out to be mainly people of color. Therefore, our narcotics arrest unfairly reflected Black and Brown violators in which statistics today prove that this form of racial profiling in the U.S. led war on drugs has been one of the most racist federal policies since Slavery and has literally destroyed the family hierarchy in communities of color. This provision in the bill would again unfairly target the same groups by preventing them from being employed by a dispensary. Recall also that for the past eleven years, while Initiative 59 was blocked, patients were not protected and many of them may have been convicted for being in possession of their medicine. Why preclude them from employment at a dispensary?
Let me conclude by saying that protecting medical cannabis patients from arrest is a great step in the right direction. But while we spend minutes, months, and years discussing and implementing these small steps of reform, the clock continues to tick and we continue to spend billions of dollars each year on a failed drug war. Putting marijuana users in jail does nothing but create an enormous profit incentive to sell more marijuana to anyone who will pay for it and keep the violence associated with prohibition in place. Ultimately, we need to address this issue positively by controlling drugs, regulating them, and putting the violent cartels out of business once and for all.