Luke Scarmazzo: Imprisoned pot dealer wants to help

April 15, 2014 

Recently in The Modesto Bee, I read the article “Cities, police back pot regulation for first time” (Page A10, March 5): While I commend Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll for dropping the “unconditional opposition” to medical marijuana and coming to the side of safety, common sense and reason, there are issues that still need to be addressed.

It is understandable that Chief Carroll rose through the ranks of law enforcement during an era in which marijuana policy was based largely upon misinformation and propaganda. This is obvious from his continued statements of marijuana’s harm. The fallacy in this line of thinking is apparent by almost two decades of hard-fought successes in the medical marijuana industry, achieved despite counterproductive police policies.

I speak from the front lines of this conflict. Ricardo Montes and I are serving 22 years in prison for operating a state-approved medical marijuana dispensary in Modesto. The Modesto Police Department played a pivotal role in our arrest and prosecution.

In a just society, we ask our citizens to make amends for their transgressions against the community. Though I sincerely applaud the California Police Chiefs Association for coming out in favor of regulation, I ask what of the lives of thousands of men and women who have been devastated by the enforcement of past policies that are now realized to have been wrong? How do we correct a decade of “unconditional opposition” by police departments that has caused an immeasurable amount of harm?

A well-regulated marijuana industry can generate substantial tax revenue, deprive the black market of vital funds and contribute to the overall well-being of our city. Chief Carroll has the rare chance to correct these missteps with a second opportunity. I offer Chief Carroll my assistance in crafting a progressive policy to ensure a safe and rigorously regulated market. I look forward to working toward the prosperity of our city.


Inmate, U.S. Penitentiary


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