The Spokesman-Review

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Outlawing marijuana costly

Your opinion that the Legislature should postpone consideration of marijuana decriminalization (“Weed out lesser ideas in a difficult short session,” Jan. 22) de-emphasizes important facts. Washington’s justice system is disastrously overburdened and underfunded. The Office of Financial Management projects an annual savings of $16 million and new revenue of $1 million if Senate Bill 5615 passes.

In a time when court staff are being furloughed, and prosecutors and public defenders are being fired, we literally cannot afford to ignore those numbers.

We have decades of proof that treating marijuana use as a crime is a failed strategy. Severe tactics have done little to achieve their intended goals. From 1991 to 2007, marijuana arrests nationwide nearly tripled. They currently make up almost half of all drug arrests.

The 12 states which decriminalized marijuana saw no ill effects. These states have not seen an increase in use. Cities and counties, such as Seattle, which have adopted “lowest law enforcement priority” ordinances have not experienced increases in use.

It is time to put our efforts, and our money, elsewhere. We can no longer continue to waste our limited resources enforcing a policy that just isn’t working for Washington.

Phillip Wetzel

Spokane



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