As a former undercover narcotics detective with the New Jersey State Police, I might be the last person you’d expect to see supporting a new marijuana decriminalization bill in the state Assembly. But my experience on the front lines of the so-called “war on drugs” is exactly what led me to support fundamental changes to failed prohibition policies.
And I am not alone in this belief. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a nonprofit education organization of 50,000 police officers, judges, prosecutors and others also understands that prohibiting marijuana doesn’t prevent people from using the drug but it does create a number of additional problems.
Keeping marijuana illegal afflicts thousands of people every year with criminal records they don’t deserve. Less obvious but of concern to users and non-users alike, is that the time police spend arresting people for marijuana distracts from the time they could be using to prevent or at least investigate violent crimes.
In the United States, our overburdened police departments are unable to solve four of 10 murders, six of 10 rapes, seven of 10 robberies and nine of 10 burglaries. Yet each year our prohibition laws result in our police taking time out to make more than 800,000 arrests for marijuana offenses. The policy of prohibition therefore constitutes a grave threat to public safety.
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