When I had the honor of testifying before the Oregon House Judiciary Committee in support of House Bill 3371, a measure that would regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol, I was pleased to have a former parole and probation officer there supporting the measure as well. Shelley Fox-Loken represented Law Enforcement Against Prohibition in submitting written testimony in support of HB 3371.
Ms. Loken also had a guest column published by The Oregonian:
People are sometimes surprised to hear that someone who dedicated her life to public safety would favor the legalization of marijuana.
But as someone who dedicated her life to promoting the public good, not the conventional wisdom, I believe that law enforcement officers are uniquely positioned to understand the harms that the prohibition of marijuana has caused in this country, and that more of us believe in legalization than feel comfortable stating so publicly.
Because marijuana is illegal, there are tremendous profits to be made in its sale. This both incentivizes violence and ensures that our efforts to prosecute our way into reduced drug use will fail, for there are always more dealers willing to take the place of those arrested. The prosecution of users has proved futile as well – despite marijuana being illegal since 1937, the majority of Americans ages 18 to 64 have tried marijuana.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition is an invaluable organization as we continue our fight to end the harmful consequences of cannabis prohibition. As enforcers of harmful drug laws, LEAP members know first-hand the massive law enforcement resources that go into waging the Drug War and the futile nature of waging this war against our own citizens. I encourage activists across the country to contact LEAP to garner their support of your local efforts. Also, it never hurts to utilize LEAP’s great speakers to address any drug law reform event or town hall meeting. I would like to express a sincere thanks to LEAP on behalf of NCC for working to end the harmful and failed policy of cannabis prohibition.
Below is the written testimony Ms. Loken submitted on behalf of herself and LEAP:
My name is Shelley Fox-Loken. I am a retired Parole and Probation Officer/Correctional Counselor and a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). I represent this organization of more than 80,000 supporters, more than 5,000 of whom have law enforcement experience from around the world. Our group consists of police officers, judges, prosecutors, prison officials and supporters who know that HB 3371 is the kind of Bill that saves lives.
HB 3371 acknowledges that the adult use of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use is not going away. Prohibition has been valiantly tried for over 70 years and has been completely and entirely unsuccessful in eradicating the use of marijuana. All of our communities have many members who use this substance with no adverse affects, and often with desirable ones. Criminalizing behaviors that have no direct negative impact on our society engenders disrespect for the law and those who enforce it, and squanders limited criminal justice resources that should be going to prevent real crime.
While working as an adult Parole and Probation Officer in Eugene in the 1980’s and 90’s, I repeatedly saw people in our Criminal Justice System who would never have ended up there had we adopted this type of Legislation decades ago. People who had never before or since committed any kind of offense that involved a real victim. These people were very much like you and me in that they grew up respecting the law. They would never consider stealing, cheating or assaulting another person. These people, these human beings, these citizens had done nothing more than use a substance to relax, unwind, treat pain and/or just have something pleasurable to enjoy occasionally.
The impact of a Felony drug conviction goes far beyond the commonly known problem of employment. These convictions result in devastating losses: children, careers, educational opportunities, housing, etc. No one’s life should be turned into a nightmare only because they choose to use a substance that some people believe might be harmful…regardless of the scientific evidence.
Marijuana prohibition has failed. It is time for our State to, once again, help lead this nation to a more sane and humane legal system based on scientific evidence, and which the public supports. People ARE going to use this substance and, as we have seen for decades now, no laws will stop it. We can both regulate it and tax it (better keeping it out of the hands of minors) or we can continue to let the Black Market make the rules and reap the profits, while the tax payers foot the bill. It’s time to make the right choice and I urge you to pass this Bill. Let’s keep our marijuana using, adult population out of the Criminal Justice System and raise some much needed revenue for our wonderful State.