Hard to rationalize pot prohibition

Norm Stamper’s told the story a lot: He was a rookie cop, working a “one-man car” in an affluent San Diego neighborhood, when he approached a home and smelled “burning vegetable matter.”

This was around 1966. Possession of marijuana – possession of even a seed or stem – was a felony. Stamper, a young cop eager to score the brownie points associated with narcotics busts, knocked on the door. No answer. He then kicked in the door and heard footsteps racing down the hall, where he found a 19-year-old man trying to flush his marijuana down the toilet. Stamper scooped out the soggy pot, placed the young man in handcuffs and led him from his parents’ house to the police car.

“As I got closer to the jail,” Stamper said, “I kept thinking, ‘My God, I could be out doing real police work.’ It was my aha moment. This kid was not hurting anybody.’

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