Mon., July 25, 2011
Spokane City Council candidates debate marijuana law
The following was asked on The S-R's candidate questionnaire. Candidate Chris Bowen declined to submit a questionnaire. Here are the answers, which were allowed to be up to 150 words, from the five other people hoping to replace Bob Apple and represent Northeast Spokane on the council.
Would you support a law, modeled after a law in Seattle, to make misdemeanor possession of marijuana by an adult the city’s lowest enforcement priority?
Continue reading the post to find out their answers.
This question is very ambiguous and since I am not fully cognizant of Seattle’s ordinance, I feel a bit out of my element to just make a specific statement. In general, if the scenario called for an adult who for example is not trafficking, non-violent, not driving, did not have children with them, and has made a reasonable attempt to be isolated from the general public, I would take a libertarian stance and would be supportive of an ordinance. There is emerging science being conducted right now on the effects of, at what level, and how it does affect people and ability. There is statistical data which supports the starting of the dialog for an ordinance such as this.
Yes and no. I would possibly support making possession of marijuana a low enforcement priority, but I believe that as long as it is illegal it should be enforced. I also believe that quasi-decriminalization leads to tying the hands of our law enforcement officers in ways that make it harder to do their jobs. Your average person in possession of marijuana may not be guilty of any other crimes, but many have warrants or are guilty of other crimes that are not discovered unless they are detained. Unfortunately our detention system is overburdened, so from a budget standpoint it does make sense to divert non-violent, no-victim crimes from detention. Our court system is equally overburdened so it is important that any such laws to do not cause a situation where legitimate criminals can get off on technicalities because they were originally detained for possession of marijuana.
Yes. While it is important for the states and municipalities to comply with federal law, we have higher priorities as a city for use of taxpayer money.
Filling our jails with low-level offenders, we now we need a bigger facility. However, I note that as our jails near capacity, one of the first types of arrests they suspend is for marijuana possession. This indicates that law enforcement already sees it as a low priority and citizens should do the same. While many consider marijuana to be a “gateway drug,” incarcerating people whose only offense is possession of marijuana is the more likely “gateway.” Placing them in jails with felons and repeat felony offenders is a good way to enculturate them into a life they would never have been exposed to, if not for their incarceration. Those driving under the influence of any drug should be incarcerated but it's costing too much – both in terms of money and the actual creation of criminals to continue incarcerating so many.