It’s not everyday that an active member of law enforcement comes out in support of legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana. But that appears to be the case in Vermont. Earlier this year Vermont decriminalized small marijuana possession. But that wasn’t enough for Richard Van Winkler, the prison superintendent for the Cheshire County Department of Corrections. Richard Van Winkler is a 20-year veteran of law enforcement. Some quotes from a Vermont Public Radio article are below:
“If we decriminalize we allow the illegal drug enterprise to flourish. That money goes to bad guys, that money funds terrorism. If we legalize, control, regulate, tax in the same way that we do for alcohol, we put the illegal drug dealer out of business,” Van Winkler said.
“The fact is policies like mandatory minimum sentencing, drug war issues have meant that the United States has had to build over 900 jail beds every two weeks for the last 20 years, this while violent crime in our country is at a 30 year low,” Van Winkler said.
“The sky is not falling, you did not see an increased police presence, there was not rioting in the streets. The legislature is excited in Colorado about looking forward to the revenue that inevitably they’re going to receive from this policy. Constituents should be happy that we’re not going to be incarcerating people there in Colorado that don’t need to be. Jails should serve one primary purpose, and that is public safety. If an individual is not a threat to public safety, then they should not be incarcerated in jail,” Van Winkler said.
That is a breath of fresh air isn’t it? These are things that non-law enforcement marijuana supporters have been saying for decades, but to hear it from an active member of law enforcement is significant. I can shout from the rooftops all day and many opponents will write me off as just being a stoner that wants to get high. But it’s quite different when a prison superintendent says the same things. Opponents have no rebuttal I’m sure, and many that were on the fence will likely make the smart choice and support reform. I wish more people in Mr. Van Winkler’s position would speak out like he did. Kudos to you Mr. Van Winkler!