According to new Harris Polling data, 81% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana. Law enforcement has had an outsize voice in the medical marijuana debate, and we’re here to set the record straight; law enforcement professionals have no place in deciding the efficacy of medicines. That is and has always been decided upon through relationships that exist between patients and their healthcare providers. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an organization of criminal justice professionals from all backgrounds who understand that medical marijuana, and drugs in general, need to be viewed from a public health perspective instead of a criminal one.

For many, marijuana is a helpful form of medicine, and for others, it may be the most effective option. We would never purposefully leave pharmaceuticals under the control of a dangerous, unregulated economy because it would be wrong to make sick and disabled people get medicine from drug dealers. Sadly, that’s what we’re doing with marijuana in many places across the country. Patients should never have to get medicine from a source that cannot be verified as safe. We know that local authorities, through compliance inspections, are heavily monitoring medical marijuana businesses. When buying marijuana from a street dealer, there’s no assurance that the medicine is free of toxic molds, pesticides, or far more dangerous drugs. It can also be dangerous because drug dealers can be armed and patients attempting to find medicine from a source on the street could wind up getting robbed or physically harmed in the process.

Arresting patients for marijuana is not only wrong, but it’s an outrageous, costly waste of time. There are dangerous criminals – drug dealers selling to kids, gangs, human traffickers, abusive parents, rapists, and thieves – who should be taking up the valuable resources we have to fight crime. Prohibiting access to regulated medical marijuana only endangers the public more by clogging the justice system with people who don’t deserve to be there and slowing the justice system down for people who most agree belong behind bars.

Patients shouldn’t be treated like criminals. Those suffering from cancer, MS, PTSD, Cerebral Palsy, seizures and other complicated conditions, just working to find relief from their pain and suffering, should never be considered the same threat to public safety as those who do real damage to our communities. We need to be taking a critical look at whether our laws reflect an obvious code of ethics or whether they are promoting an outdated, prohibitionist mentality that victimizes our most vulnerable friends and family.