OR: Retired Corrections Officer Delivers A Public Safety Argument For The Legalization of Weed

Discussion in 'The Drug War Headline News' started by Monterey Bud, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Monterey Bud Monterey Bud

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    By Shelley Fox-Loken - 4.3.2013
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    "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.

    Most will suffer no ill consequences, eventually grow out of it, and look back on their youthful indiscretions with a sly grin. But for those who are prosecuted, there’s no moving past it. Their criminal record will forever haunt them. If the difference between those who were prosecuted and those who were not were random, we would brand it a cruel, ineffective system. But it’s worse than random; it falls so consistently along racial and economic lines, the criminalization of marijuana should be a crime in itself.

    In the meantime, violent crimes go unsolved as our police resources are squandered on a consensual crime. Revenue that should go into government coffers instead funds organized crime, creating mayhem both here and south of the border. And those who do partake have no idea what they’re putting into their own bodies.

    If instead, as House Bill 3371 proposes, Oregon chooses to legalize marijuana, we could control who sells it, and more importantly, we could control who buys it. We could restrict that sale to adults over 21 by taking the trade from the hands of criminals and putting it in the hands of government-licensed vendors. We could control the purity of what’s sold. We could take a bite out of the funding of the street gangs who terrorize our neighborhoods, and we could take a step toward a more equitable justice system.

    I worked in the criminal justice system for 17 years because I thought that by doing so, I could make this state a little safer, make people’s lives a little better. In those years, I reluctantly realized that the only way to do so was to challenge, rather than to quietly uphold, our unjust laws on marijuana.
    Today I ask you to stand with me in challenging these laws and in seeking a smarter path. The voters of Colorado and Washington have started this country down the path of legalization, but so far, no legislature has been courageous enough to do it on their own. I would be so proud and honored if Oregon was the first. Please urge your legislators to support HB 3371.
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