The Rachel Maddow Show | November 13, 2012
>>> the list of rum that is sold in the state of utah . this is the full list of light rum , white rum that you be buy in utah . the kind of rum to make a dak daquari. this is better than the mezcal list. that's two legally, even though one of the two mezcals apparently has illegal as its brand name. this is all you can legally get as far as it goes mezcal in the state of utah . however, if you have a kind of rum or a kind of mezcal or even a label of wine that you would like to be able to get but that isn't on the utah state list, you can request it from the state government . if you click on the little shopping cart there on the website, it takes you to the special orders page where you can ask your state government to please buy you some better mezcal or whatever. you have to ask them, though. they do try to be helpful. they're a whole section of the state government 's website about how to best pair the wines of the state of utah with various types of food. this is not like a tourism thing. this is not an export things or wines made in utah . it's wines from everywhere, but the state has to get them for you. used to be a state employee in utah whose job it was to taste every alcohol and wine and whiskey the state was considering allowing into the state to be sold. i don't know if there is someone with that job, but it wasn't that long ago. that's because in utah the department of alcoholic beverage control is not only tasked with enforcing liquor laws in the state giving out licenses, they choose which wines and beers and spirits the citizens of the state of utah may purchase. the state government on behalf of its residents tastes wine and decides if it is good enough for utah . whether did the states deal with booze is really weird. i always thought it's because we had a long, strange, national failed experiment called prohibition that was not that long ago. when prohibition ended in 1933 , americans could legally buy and sell and drink booze for the first time in 13 years. people were obviously psyched when prohibition ended, but there was a the lot of policy to figure out how to sell and regulate alcohol. would cities do it? would states do it? the federal government ? do you need a license to sell alcohol? how old to drink alcohol? states came up with their own answers to those questions, and the laws between the states all these decades later are diverse. today for example 18 states are called control states , which means they control the wholesale and retail sales of alcohol. that's why in a controlled state like utah , the state chooses your wines for you and hopefully we will help you pair them with dinner. maryland is not a control state , but there's one county in the state , montgomery county that does it that way, too. le a little taste of utah in the middle of maryland. it isn't just between places that have state stores for booze and states that don't have state stores. i mean, in some places you can buy beer or at the rite aid or gas station . in some places you can buy beer at a gags station, but spirits come from a state store that looks like a prison. there are all the different levels of control on the sale and distribution of booze up to and including the state becoming the retailer that sells you the booze. now that is about to happen with pot, too, sort of. three states had wide-ranging new rules about pot the on the ballot this year. not about medical marijuana but recreationalal use of marijuana. it passed in washington and colorado but not in oregon , which is oregon is a more blue state than colorado is. oregon was voting on something slightly different. the model of the state -run store that sells all the liquor in the state than utah , that is what oregon was considering for pot. the state would regulate people growing and processing pot and getting it ready to be sold. in oregon the proposal was that the state itself would buy all of the pot in the state and then sell that pot to oregon residents, presumably at stores that look like prisons like with whiskey in north carolina and utah and a bunch of other states , too. that model of how to deal with legalized pot is what was rejected in oregon this year, but what was accepted in colorado and washington state , on the other hand, was a proposal that those states should license and regulate people to grow marijuana. license and regulate people to process it and prepare it for sale. then in colorado and washington what they said is that the state should also regulate normal businesses, private for profit stores to operate like regular liquor stores, like regular businesses selling this new illegal product regulated and taxed by the state . that is the proposal that won by ten points in colorado and by 12 points in washington state . according to these ballot initiatives , it will not be illegal to buy or possess less than an ounce poft over the age of 21. on paper it's that pot is regulated much like alcohol is, but the really important difference is, the really important difference is that according to the federal government and therefore for the whole united states of america everywhere according to the federal government it's illegal to buy or sell pot. that's just as much the law as these new state laws that say the opposite. what's going to happen here? is it legal or not? is it going to be legal to buy and sell and smoke pot in colorado and washington , or is it not? we are not the only ones asking this question. the people in charge are asking the question, too. the governor of colorado has indicated he also has no idea how this is going to work. on election day he put out a state reminding coloradans under federal law pot is still ellegal, so they should hold off on the cheat toes and goad fildfish for the time being . they met with the deputy attorney general to figure out how this will be handles. meanwhile prosecutors in the two largest counties in washington state have taken matters into their own hands. they have dropped hundreds of cases of pot possession in that state . hundreds of criminal cases have been dropped. the king county prosecutor says there's no point in continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal next month. true enough. however, in the same state out in the eastern part of washington state and spokane county , prosecutors there say they plan to keep arresting people just as they do now for pot related offenses. their argument in spokane is the only legal way to get pot in washington even after this new state law goes into effect will be to buy that pot from a state regulated pot store. and those state regulated pot stores don't exist yet, but they might soon be created if the federal government allows that to happen and nobody knows that the government will allow them to happen. this is policy soup, and i don't mean this as a munchies joke. this doesn't make any sense yet. joining us for the interview is neil frank linn. he served in law enforcement for 30 years as a narcotics officer with the maryland state police and is commander of training for the baltimore police department . thanks for joining us.
>> thanks for having me. what a great lead-in.
>> you are familiar with the laws than i am. did i get the contours of that right? do you feel like the comparison with alcohol prohibition is appropriate here?
>> absolutely. it is appropriate. it was the states back in 1933 that ended alcohol prohibition . they were the ones that took the initiative to move the federal government towards change.
>> you are a supporter, i know, of the decriminalization of marijuana . with your background in law enforcement specifically in narcotics, how did you come to this political point of view?
>> well, it didn't happen overnight, but there was one key moment back in 2000 , october. i had just retired from the maryland state police the year before and went to work for baltimore police department as a commander of training. a good friend of mine and comrade ed to thely was working undercover for the state police . he was assigned to an fbi task force in washington , d.c., and he was buying drugs from a mid-level drug dealer . this time the drug dealer decided he wanted to keep the drugs and the money, and he executed ed totley right on the spot. he shot him in the side of the head. that made me start to think, i thought back to marcellus ward, who was working undercover for the baltimore police department when he was back in the '80s. he was killed in a similar matter. a couple of officers were killed right on the street by drug dealers , but a couple years after, the dawson family of 7 right here in baltimore were murdered one night by a drug dealer who occupied the corner right outside their home. the mother was working with the police being a good zicitizen. he set the home on fire because he disagreed with her interfering with her marketplace. that was my turning point.
>> when you talk to people who disagree on this issue and when you make the case for decriminalization. how do you explain why incidents of violence like that, people that you know and worked with and seen colleagues die in the line of fire on the war on drugs , how do you make the case that decriminalization would get rid of that saturday sort of horrific violence.
>> not decriminalization. that does remove the criminal penalty from possession. you still would have your elicit trade, the drug dealers on the street, the cartel in mexico. legalization with regulation and control is what we want to do. we want to remove this completely from the hands of criminal gangs and the cartel. that will affect the violence. that's when the violence goes down.
>> in terms of what's been approved by voters in colorado and washington state , it seems unclear to me now what will happen in the states . where state law is in opposition to federal law . how is law enforcement going to handle this, and ultimately is this a decision that's made at the political level or at the law enforcement level?
>> well, it's made at both levels, and i think this is a win-win for police. in seattle the police chief said they're not going to arrest people for possession of marijuana anymore, even though the law doesn't take effect until december. it's a win-win because it has been drug prohibition like with marijuana that has driven a wedge in between police and community. number one, police can get back to the business that they want to do, of what they want to do, and that is to protect people from violent people. rape, robbery, murder. crimes against our children, domestic violence . we can get back to the business of that. we didn't -- most of us didn't sign on this job to it arrest people for smoking pot . it will repair -- it gives us an opportunity to repair the damage that has been done between police and community. you know, racial profiling , the foundation for racial profiling today in this country is the drug war . the drug war just doesn't work anymore. there's not one piece of it that works. we have more drugs in our community than ever before. it's very costly. four decades, $1.3 trillion. our prisons are bursting at the seams with black and brown people . we need a change, and it's time for the president to lead on this one.
>> neal franklin, a three-decade long career in law enforcement . thank you very much for your time tonight. you speak with uncommon authority on this subject. thank you.
>> thank you, rachel.
>> i can't help but wonder, what would j. edgar hoover have done with the petraeus file? hold on. that's coming