Joe Miller, Probation Officer Fired for Statement in Support of Marijuana Legalization, Launches Lawsuit With ACLU's Help

Maybe one reason marijuana prohibition is still in effect is this:

Law officers face being fired merely for stating publicly their views on legalization.

That was the case for Joe Miller, a former Mohave County probation officer whose supervisors terminated him after his name appeared on a letter -- with 31 other law officers -- in support of the 2010 California ballot proposal that would have made pot as legal as booze and cigarettes.

Now Miller is suing for damages in a federal complaint with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. They claim the county's action violated Miller's First Amendment right to free speech, caused emotional distress and damaged his reputation.

Miller's boss at the time of his firing, Friend Walker, the county's former chief probation officer, learned that Miller's name was on the September 13, 2010, letter by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition sometime that November. When Walker asked Miller about it, Miller told his boss he didn't know what he was talking about, says the lawsuit.

Miller soon found out that his wife had submitted his name to LEAP, (though he didn't mind one bit,) the suit states.

On December 10, 2010, he was fired for "failure to maintain neutrality" and dishonesty, even though the LEAP letter clearly states that the signatories' agency affiliation is only listed "for identification purposes."

The government simply can't have law officers who believe in legalization running around, it seems.

And no wonder: If those officers succeed in ending marijuana prohibition, just think of all the probation and police officers, federal agents and prison guards that might be put out of work.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern