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The Wall Street Journal reports that Colorado law enforcement faces significant funding problems due to the state’s new law: “With marijuana legalized for those at least 21 years old in Washington later this year and in Colorado as of Jan. 1, law-enforcement agencies in those states expect to lose millions in revenue gained from assets seized from growers and dealers.”

Illegal marijuana and the revenue it has provided for law enforcement has by no means been unique to Colorado. This Journal graph breaks down the top ten states where marijuana-related asset forfeitures have brought in millions of dollars over the last decade:

  • California — $181.4 million
  • New York — $101.3 million
  • Florida — $80.5 million
  • Texas — $64.3 million
  • Ohio — $39.2 million
  • Arizona — $36.8 million
  • Michigan — $36 million
  • North Carolina — $34.9 million
  • Georgia — $26.2 million
  • Wisconsin — $24.7 million

The federal government also plays a significant role in giving states and municipalities financial incentive to fight the war on drugs.

In a story about racial disparities in marijuana arrests, the American Civil Liberties Union reported in June: “when the federal government doles out hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to law enforcement each year, they require reporting on arrest numbers, including marijuana arrests. This creates a powerful incentive for police to aggressively go after people with small amounts of marijuana – it’s an easy way to get a lot of arrests.”

The New York Times reported in June, “Phillip Atiba Goff, a psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that police departments, partly driven by a desire to increase their drug arrest statistics, can concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods to meet numerical goals, focusing on low-level offenses that are easier, quicker and cheaper than investigating serious felony crimes.”

“Whenever federal funding agencies encourage law enforcement to meet numerical arrest goals instead of public safety goals, it will likely promote stereotype-based policing and we can expect these sorts of racial gaps,’ Professor Goff said.”

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