Pro-Legalization Cops Support Washington State Marijuana Hearing This Week
Two Bills -- One for Legalization, One for Decriminalization -- Will Be Heard
Olympia, WA -- Seattle's former police chief and a larger group of cops, judges and prosecutors who fought in the failed "war on drugs" is cheering this Wednesday's marijuana policy hearing in the Washington State House of Representatives as a sign of increasing public frustration with prohibition and the widespread desire for new approaches like legalization and decriminalization.
"Our marijuana laws help bankroll violent cartels and drug gangs. They do nothing to reduce our kids' access and they're costing our state millions of dollars, both in enforcement and in lost revenues," said Norm Stamper, Seattle's retired police chief and a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "A rapidly growing number of Washingtonians recognize that regulating marijuana, much as we regulate alcohol, is an idea whose time has come. I couldn't be more encouraged by the willingness of our lawmakers to take up the issue."
This Wednesday, January 13 at 1:30 PM, the House Committee on Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness will hear both House Bill 1177, which would decriminalize adult possession of marijuana, and House Bill 2401, which would further legalize and tax marijuana sales.
"While decriminalization represents a good first step of ceasing to arrest people for possessing small amounts of marijuana, what we really need to do is put gangs and cartels out of business by fully legalizing and regulating marijuana sales," said Chief Stamper.
Seattle's new mayor, Mike McGinn, has said he also favors legalization.
SB 5615, the Senate companion to HB 1177 (the decriminalization bill), was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee last year with a bipartisan "do pass" recommendation and remains alive for further consideration in the 2010 session. The bill's fiscal note projects $16 million in annual savings and an additional $1 million in new revenue per year, more than half of which would help fund Washington's Criminal Justice Treatment Account for drug treatment and prevention programs.
Separately, a group of Washington activists announced Monday that they will begin collecting signatures to place a marijuana legalization initiative on this November's statewide ballot. Elsewhere, California legislators are holding hearings on a marijuana legalization bill this week, and the Rhode Island Senate is currently conducting a blue ribbon commission overview of that state's marijuana laws.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is a 15,000-member organization representing police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others from around the world who want to legalize and regulate all drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More information is available at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.