Beck and Raney say no resources are spent just to hunt down recreational pot smokers. "It's not a drain at all," Raney said. When officers find marijuana, though, they file charges to uphold the law.
This approach has led to racial disparities, with blacks and Latinos much more likely to be arrested for possession than whites. Proponents of Proposition 19 have highlighted this to appeal to minorities, winning endorsements from associations representing black and Latino officers.
Law enforcement officials say few Californians are in prison for marijuana crimes, but McNamara said incarceration is "brutal and it's vicious, and it can destroy your kid's chance to have a decent life."
McNamara believes that ending prohibition could eliminate the underground market. "Not only does the black market create a lot of violence," he said, "but it also creates a drug culture and a crime culture in a lot of neighborhoods."