I-502 takes customers away from dangerous gangs

I retired from the bench in 2005, after presiding over Whatcom County civil and criminal matters for 20 years. Then, as now, I did not believe that marijuana use was an appropriate matter for the criminal justice system. I believed that we could more effectively and economically tackle marijuana use as a public health issue, and still do.

The only difference I see now is that matters have gotten worse. We still arrest more than 9,000 adults every year for the offense of possessing marijuana. We still waste police, prosecutor and judge time that could be spent on serious crimes. We still saddle otherwise law-abiding citizens with criminal records that pose barriers to education and employment.

But now, the Canadian gangs and Mexican cartels enriched by marijuana prohibition are more violent, and they have extended their operations into Washington.

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