Law Enforcement Training vs Political Propaganda: The Fine Line

Aaron Malin
June 1, 2014 | Aaron Malin
From 10am-12pm: Marijuana Legalization - Why NOT?

From 10am-12pm: Marijuana Legalization – Why NOT?

Each year, hundreds of narcotics officers gather at the Lake of the Ozarks for a training conference hosted by the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association (MNOA). Most, if not all, of Missouri’s 27 multi-jurisdictional drug task forces send their officers to this conference, with some calling it the only training they receive all year. Missouri’s task forces spend tens of thousands of dollars of tax money allocated for training on this event each year, to learn such skills as “Tactical Survival During a Deadly Force Encounter” or “Risk Management and Undercover Operations” or…”Marijuana Legalization- Why NOT?”

That’s right: According to the Clay County Drug Task Force, at a taxpayer funded conference supposedly dedicated to law enforcement training, Missouri’s narcotics officers were taught the latest anti-legalization talking points. What’s more, they received training credit hours (POST Certification) for their attendance at the class — all to become well-versed in the latest drug war propaganda.

2012 Grant Details Report from Clay County Drug Task Force. Obtained via Sunshine Law Request.

2012 Grant Details Report from Clay County Drug Task Force. Obtained via Sunshine Law Request from the Missouri Department of Public Safety.

You might notice the name of the conference is redacted in the document above. This conference name was not redacted in dozens of other documents obtained via open records requests , which provide the necessary context to discern that the document above must refer to the MNOA Conference. Interestingly, the Department of Public Safety only began redacting the name of this conference from documents I requested on task force grant funding after I began asking specific questions about these conference expenditures. More on that soon.

Taxpayers should be troubled by the notion that their money, allocated for the training of our law enforcement officers, is used to fund political propaganda. Missourians should be troubled by the notion that learning the latest anti-legalization talking points counts as training hours for law enforcement. Cannabis policy reform activists should be troubled by the fact that dismantling an 80-year-old marijuana-prohibition complex, already an uphill battle, becomes even harder when we are forced to fund political training for our opposition with tax dollars.

We will soon be releasing a comprehensive report on the political activities of the taxpayer-funded Missouri Narcotics Officers Association. Keep an eye out for that study later this month.

Aaron Malin is the Director of Research for Show-Me Cannabis. You can email him with questions or comments at