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Many Prosecutors Downgrade Marijuana Cases, Shift Priorities

As marijuana becomes widely legalized, many prosecutors do not enforce marijuana prohibition for reasons relating to race, politics, and crackdowns on harder drugs. Dallas District Attorney John Creuzot believes that policies are focusing less on the criminalization of marijuana and more on diverting resources to other serious crimes. "I think police are starting to realize that there's no greater public safety from the enforcement of this," he said. Creuzot said it may take officers five or six hours to process a marijuana arrest. He suggested that officers devote attention to the 911 crisis, in which low police response rates to violent crimes are upsetting citizens. Creuzot spoke at a Drugs and Public Safety symposium hosted by Arizona State University, along with Will Thompson, Criminal District Attorney of Navarro County, Tx., agreed, saying, "Other drugs, methamphetamines, and fentanyl are huge problems, and combating those are very very difficult already." Kent Volkmer, District Attorney from Pinal County, Az., mentioned that the redeployment of resources will help protect the public from other dangers such as rising cases of intoxicated drivers.


Creuzot shared that around 90 percent of people with marijuana misdemeanors include brown or Black people, "That's obviously a huge disparity when everyone uses marijuana the same." During his time as a judge, before he became a prosecutor, Creuzot repeatedly saw people of color being stopped, searched, and arrested at a much higher rate than their counterparts. Officers enforce drug laws against communities of color, but if "you went to the white part of town and did the same exact thing," police would be fired, he said. Baked by political power in Dallas, officers can "with impunity enforce these policies on people of color." He said many officers lack the understanding of how some policies are historically based on race, as the are enforced and end up increasing recidivism in minority communities. communities. In Arizona, Volkmer attempts to make his policies clear and practices transparency, "If we focus on ... dangerous people, the voters are very happy," he said. He said voters supported his stance regarding shifting enforcement to other dangerous drugs, instead of marijuana.

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