Article by Steve Elliott, writer for Toke Of The Town
Law enforcement officers who once waged the War On Drugs submitted testimony Tuesday supporting a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Washington state. The bill, HB 1550, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, was heard by the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness.
Norm Stamper, a retired Seattle chief of police, wrote that legalizing marijuana "would provide a great benefit for public safety by allowing the state's police officers to focus on the worst crimes, protecting the people of Washington from burglaries, rapes, shootings, and drunk driving."
"Not only would it free up police resources, it would bring in much-needed new revenue for the state," Stamper wrote.
?Stamper and the other criminal justice professionals who testified Tuesday are members of the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). LEAP represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs.
According to Rep. Dickerson, the bill could generate $400 million in new revenue for the state every two years. Of the revenues raised, 77 percent would be dedicated to health care and 20 percent to substance abuse and treatment.
The bill would legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, and allow it to be sold through state liquor stores, with commercial growers applying for a license through the Liquor Control Board.
"Drug cases and marijuana cases in particular occupy an inordinate amount of money and time," testified David Nichols, a retired Whatcom County Superior Court judge. "In addition to the court resources they waste, I witnessed the damage they inflicted upon individuals and their families and communities. And for what? Marijuana laws are not keeping anyone from using marijuana."
Also submitting testimony on Tuesday were retired U.S. Customs inspector Arnold James Byron, former police officer James Peet and former Washington State Department of Corrections probation officer Matt McCally.
The full text of the bill can be found by clicking here [PDF].