OLYMPIA, WA — A number of law enforcers who once waged the “war on drugs” submitted testimony yesterday in support of a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana in Washington. 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 and the other criminal justice professionals that testified today are speakers for the organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
According to Rep. Dickerson, the bill could generate $400 million in new revenue for the state every two years. Seventy-seven percent of the revenues raised would be dedicated to health care and 20 percent to substance abuse and treatment. It would legalize the use of marijuana for adults age 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.”
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Also submitting testimony today 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 and other information can be found at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1550
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison warders, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate 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 info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.