Report: At Least 1 in 20 Colorado Arrests Are Marijuana Related
Category: News | Posted on Thu, September, 27th 2012 by THCFinder
In just six weeks, Colorado will vote on Amendment 64, an initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol. A new report commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance outlines how legalization would affect the state’s criminal justice system:
A study conducted by the Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimated that police forces in Colorado spend about 4.4 percent of their budgets enforcing marijuana prohibition, that the judicial system spends 7 percent on marijuana cases, and that 2 percent of the corrections budget also is spent on marijuana-related incarcerations. [...]
Economist Chris Stiffler, who wrote the CCLP report, told the Colorado Independent that his best estimate is that 5 percent to 6 percent of all arrests in Colorado are marijuana related. All told, the study concludes that legalizing small amounts of marijuana will save Colorado taxpayers $12 million a year in the beginning and up to $40 million a year in later years.
Though the taxpayer savings are relatively modest, the human cost of the drug war led the NAACP to endorse Amendment 64. Almost half of all drug arrests in the country are for marijuana possession — more than 500,000 a year. In Colorado, the number is ballparked around 10,000 to 12,000 arrests a year. According to Tom Gorman, who heads a federal program to coordinate regional drug trafficking in the Rocky Mountain, state police do not go out of their way to make marijuana possession arrests. A retired police officer told reporters that it made sense for cops to support legalization:
Law enforcement officers know better than anyone that keeping marijuana illegal and unregulated means the gangs and cartels that control the illegal trade win, and the rest of us lose. Our current marijuana laws distract police officers from doing the job we signed up for — protecting the public by stopping and solving serious crimes. They also put us at risk by forcing us to deal with an underground marijuana market made up of gangsters, cartels and other criminals.
The state capital, Denver, has already legalized petty possession, though police can still make arrests based on state law. Medical marijuana is also legal in Colorado, and full legalization is favored by 51 percent of likely voters. Governor John Hickenlooper (D), however, has come out staunchly against the amendment.
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