A coalition of law enforcers has come out in support of marijuana legalization in Oregon, less than a week before voters will decide the issue at the polls.
"Treating marijuana as a crime has failed," 30 former police officers, sheriffs, prosecutors and judges write in a letter released Wednesday by Yes on 91, the campaign supporting legalization in Oregon. "Arresting and citing thousands of people in Oregon and elsewhere for marijuana-related crimes is a distraction to law enforcement and a misuse of taxpayer resources. The time and money spent should go to make our communities safer. Police resources should be focused on violent criminals, thieves and criminal cartels."
Signers include Pete Tutmark, former Oregon County deputy sheriff; Kris Olson, retired U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon; Norm Stamper, retired Seattle police chief; Tony Ryan, former Denver Police Department lieutenant; and Stephen Downing, retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief.
Oregon's Measure 91 would allow adults to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana at home and up to one ounce in public. Taxes on marijuana sales will fund schools, law enforcement, and drug prevention and education programs. The Oregon Liquor Control Commission would regulate and monitor the industry.
Voters in Alaska and Washington, D.C., also decide legalization of recreational cannabis on Nov. 4. Florida voters decide whether to legalize medical marijuana.
Recent polls show Oregon legalization supporters with a slight edge, 46 percent to 44 percent. Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) has signaled his support for legalization.
"I hear the drumbeats from Washington and Colorado," Kitzhaber said in January. "I want to make sure we have a thoughtful regulatory system. The legislature would be the right place to craft that."
The state could reap $17 million to $40 million annually on marijuana taxes, the state financial estimate committee has projected. A recent study from personal finance website NerdWallet estimated $50 million to $100 million in annual tax revenue.
Of course not all of Oregon's law enforcement personnel agree the state should legalize marijuana. Several district attorneys and sheriffs have been vocal opponents.
Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, an opposition spokesman, has cited intoxicated driving and increased use by minors as concerns.
"Marijuana is already functionally available to almost any adult that wants it in Oregon," Marquis told Oregon Live.
To date, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use, including Oregon in 1998. Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Federal law continues to declare the drug illegal.
Read the full letter and list of supporters below:
DATE: Oct. 29, 2014
RE: Statement in support of Oregon’s Measure 91 from Law Enforcement
Treating marijuana as a crime has failed. Arresting and citing thousands of people in Oregon and elsewhere for marijuana-related crimes is a distraction to law enforcement and a misuse of taxpayer resources. The time and money spent should go to make our communities safer. Police resources should be focused on violent criminals, thieves and criminal cartels.
A regulated, legal and taxed system for marijuana has already been shown to work better in Colorado and Washington. Colorado, the first state to implement regulated sales, has seen a reduction in teen use, a drop in traffic fatalities, and a falling violent crime rate in Denver, where most dispensaries are located. Revenue is going to fund public services rather than into the pockets of criminals and we expect the same in Washington when data starts to come in from that state. The sky has not fallen and law enforcement officers are now directing their time toward serious crimes, in accordance with their communities' wishes.
Measure 91 is built on the foundation provided by these states and tailored to Oregon. It will ensure 35% of tax revenue raised goes to law enforcement, including 10% each to cities and counties and 15% for state police. It is a better approach.
Supported by the following 30 law enforcement officials:
- Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper (Ret.) (Orcas Island, WA) 34 years
- Multnomah County Sheriff Don Clark (Ret.) (Multnomah County, OR) Over 10 years law enforcement experience and a career of public service in Oregon
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing (Ret.) (Long Beach, CA) 20 years
- US Attorney for the District of Oregon Kris Olson (Ret.) (Oregon) 17 years of experience as a prosecutor
- Oregon Supreme Court Justice, Court of Appeals Judge and Circuit Court trial Judge, Bill Riggs (Ret.) (Willsonville. OR) 35 years of judge experience
- Assistant State's Attorney Inge Fryklund (Ret.) (Bend, OR) 30 years law enforcement experience
- Lieutenant Sheriff Paul Stiegleder (Ret.) (Portland, OR) 30 years
- Former Drug Unit Prosecutor Darian Stanford (Portland, OR) 5 years
- Former County Deputy Sheriff Pete Tutmark (Clackamas, Oregon) 30 years
- Prosecutor Jay Fisher (Denver, CO) 12 years
- Denver Police Department Lieutenant Tony Ryan (Ret.) (Sahuarita, AZ) 36 years
- Special Agent Finn Selander (Ret.) (Albuquerque, NM) 20 years
- Former Detention Officer and Sheriff's Deputy Jason Thomas (Denver, CO) 2 years
- Sergeant John Baker (Ret.) (Parker, CO) 24 years
- Former Undercover Narcotics Officer Jay Fleming (Mohave Valley, AZ) 15 years
- Federal Probation Officer LeRoy Washington (Ret.) (Kamuela, HI) 34 years
- Former Deputy Sheriff Nicholas Dial (Mesa, AZ) 2 years
- US Customs Inspector Arnold Byron (Ret.) (Burlington, WA) 21 years
- Former Corrections Official Matt McCally (Renton, WA) 7 years
- Deputy Sheriff MacKenzie Allen (Ret.) (Santa Fe, NM) 15 years
- Former Judge Leonard Frieling (Lafayette, CO) 8 years
- Former Prosecutor and Corrections Officer Jim Doherty (Seattle, WA) 6 years
- Parole and Probation Officer Shelley Fox-Loken (Ret.) (Portland, OR) 21 years
- Former Police Officer James Peet (Sumner, WA) 3 years
- Superior Court Judge David A Nichols (Ret.) (Bellingham, WA) 20 years
- Narcotics Officer and Military Police Officer David Doddridge (Ret.) (St. George, UT) 21 years
- Lieutenant Commander Diane Goldstein (Ret.) (Santa Ana, CA) 21 years
- Former Police Officer Kyle Kazan (Long Beach, CA) 5 years
- Former Deputy Sheriff Nate Bradley (Sheridan, CA) 7 years
- Former Deputy Sheriff Leo Laurence (San Diego, CA) 16 years