Jim Kenny, one of the two Democrats running to be the Snohomish County Prosecutor, has endorsed I-1068 to make marijuana legal in Washington. In his press release, he touches on the key reason why our budget-conscious politicians should be joining him:
There are also many cost savings which can be realized if the voters pass I-1068, especially at the cash-strapped county level of government. Kenny points to the 16,000 marijuana criminal cases per year that would be removed from our state and local court systems, saving tens of millions of dollars in police, prosecutorial, and judicial resources. “I can point to two medical marijuana cases in the last year on which the Snohomish County Prosecutor spent valuable taxpayer resources, neither of which led to conviction. If juries are throwing out cases like that, clearly we need to move on.”
“We are looking at a crisis in public safety with declining revenue for local government. I think it’s time to prioritize and really focus our criminal justice resources on violent criminals,” said Kenny. “Given the state of our economy and the projected financial situation facing government at every level, we need to get down to the fundamentals and prioritize.”
There was a time when politicians (let alone prosecutors) didn’t dare talk about reducing law enforcement budgets or cutting back on waging the drug war. But two things have changed since then – a bad economy forcing even police budgets to be slashed, and a growing awareness that marijuana prohibition causes far more crime in our communities than would occur if we treated it the same as alcohol. Being smarter about how we reduce crime in our neighborhoods – rather than doing things that appear tough – is one of the most effective ways that we can introduce more fiscal sanity to our bloated budgets.