Nov 09, 2011
Yesterday, voters in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Tacoma, Washington directed local law enforcement to make marijuana possession the lowest enforcement priority. The measures passed by 2:1 margins, garnering nearly 65% of the vote in Tacoma and 66% in Kalamazoo.
With only 61-66% of homicide cases in this country cleared every year, and only 12% of burglaries cleared, it’s not surprising that voters think police should have more important things to do than arresting individuals who possess a substance safer than alcohol. While crimes with actual victims went unsolved, police found time for the arrests, bookings, and court time associated with more than 750,000 marijuana possession arrests in the U.S. in 2009.
Kalamazoo and Tacoma are far from alone in directing police to find better things to do than arrest marijuana users. More than a dozen cities and counties —with a total population of over 3.3 million — have directed law enforcement to de-prioritize marijuana possession enforcement.
Congratulations to all who were involved in these sensible measures that will prevent the convictions and resulting stigmatization and heartache that can haunt people for life.
This is one more step in the turning tide. In less than a year, voters in Colorado, Washington, and possibly other states will be deciding whether to replace marijuana prohibition with regulation in their states. With 50% of Americans now supporting making marijuana use legal, we are hopeful that the first states will have opted out of prohibition by this time next year.