If this story is even partially true, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has finally jumped the shark. Many conservatives around the state—and country—have held him up both as a hero in his law enforcement ardency and in his refusal to bow to the surrounding left-liberal commentariat and activists. Over the past couple of years, he has made that job more difficult with some poor decisions, but now he is making it impossible.
Just last month he announced a new effort to go after street dealers of drugs, a la Giuliani and Bratton, including marijuana. That is a good idea and did wonders for the Big Apple. Knowing how problematic and crime-driving drug sales are, and how everything from marijuana to heroin is increasingly ending up in too many of our teens’ hands and brains, it is an even better idea for Arizona. Now, however, he is a featured speaker at a fundraiser for a group supporting legalizing marijuana. While the event seems to be billed as an educational event on how seniors can benefit from medical marijuana, the group sponsoring it is all over and all about legalizing recreational use as well, that is, legalizing marijuana. And their promotional material seems to confuse those issues to boot.
People can have their opinions on this—we tend to side with the position that legalizing a product that more and more science is showing to be more and more potent is actually a bad idea. We also note how marijuana legalization will actually be bad for law enforcement, generally, and how we can read by the week about new illegal grows and law enforcement seizures in places like Colorado and Washington where the black market is still thriving. And we think it as close to horrific as can be that, yes, it’s still getting into the hands of our teens.
With all that said, just what is Sheriff Joe doing, and, moreover, what is he communicating? We know from the Arizona Department of Health Services that “medical marijuana” is simply not something most seniors are interested in, with about five percent of such “card holders” being over the age of 71 (and the vast plurality of “card holders” being under forty). Is the point to get more of them to use? Is it to fundraise for legalization as the sponsoring group wants to do and issues reports on?
Sheriff Joe has had a long and noble career with both the DEA and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office—he should not be, at once, putting the brakes and accelerator on an issue he has committed his life toward, all the while sending mixed signals to our community, and helping fundraise for the opposite of what his Department says it is doing. If he’s being used as a dupe, he should stop. If he’s caving in on an issue he’s dedicated his career to, that’s another matter—but he should tell us clearly so we can all know just what it is he is up to. And, if he’s simply not sure anymore, and jumped the shark, then he should resign.