Law enforcement should be focused on finding real criminals, not going after marijuana consumers and growers. As a marijuana consumer in Oregon, I have never been able to trust law enforcement. I have been the victim of crimes before, but I could never call the cops because I didn’t know if they were going to turn my house upside down because they smelled marijuana. No one should ever have to live like that. People should be able to call the cops without living in fear of what could happen next because of the plants they chose to have in their house.
This isn’t just my opinion, it’s also the opinion of the Sheriff of King County, Washington, John Urquhart. Sheriff Urquhart has seen first hand that marijuana legalization works, and has been offering up his voice to the Oregon legalization campaign. He recently wrote a quest opinion on Oregon Live. Below are some excerpts:
For more than a decade, I was a narcotics detective and witnessed firsthand the failure of the “War on Drugs” and the futility of trying to arrest our way out of it. As a society, we’ve spent more than $1 trillion and countless hours of police, prosecutor, judge and court staff time, but we have not significantly reduced demand for marijuana. Worse, we have incarcerated generations of individuals (resulting in the highest incarceration rate in the world) and created a system of criminalization and stigmatization that ruins lives — all due to a substance that is considered less damaging than alcohol or tobacco.
The negative repercussions from this failed drug policy are staggering. Consider how much time and money is being thrown away in Oregon. According to the Washington Post, one out of every 14 arrests and citations in Oregon (or about 7 percent) are for marijuana. The Oregon Annual Uniform Crime Report estimates that a marijuana arrest or citation is made every 39 minutes (99,000 in the past decade). In 2010 alone, more than $50 million of your taxpayer money was spent enforcing marijuana possession laws. And these aren’t all hardened criminals wreaking havoc on communities. An analysis by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, Oregon State Police data found that 90 percent of the marijuana possession incidents in 2010 involved less than one ounce.
I suggest you click on the link above to read the full guest opinion. Marijuana prohibition has failed, in Oregon and beyond. It’s time all states took a new approach.