2013-02-14 / Letters to the Editor

Legalizing marijuana helps law enforcement

I very much agree with Jeff Mc- Donough’s editorial last week, “Legislators should legalize marijuana.” Mr. McDonough makes very good arguments about the economic benefits of ending marijuana prohibition and correctly points out that allowing legitimate businesses to sell marijuana would prevent the proceeds from going to violent criminal organizations.

However, as a former uniformed patrol officer with the Providence Police Department, I feel the need to point out two additional – and very important – reasons why our legislature should tax and regulate marijuana: redirection of law-enforcement resources and a return of the respect for the rule of law.

Every minute a Rhode Island lawenforcement officer spends punishing an otherwise law-abiding adult for a marijuana violation is a minute that could be spent policing property crimes and acts of violence. According to the FBI’s uniform crime reports, the clearance rate in Rhode Island in 2009 for murder was 43.8 percent, 27 percent for rape, and 13 percent for burglary. Surely the people of Rhode Island would be safer in their person and property if law enforcement were relieved of the burden of enforcing marijuana prohibition.

Nearly half of all Americans have tried marijuana, meaning they intentionally engaged in criminal activity. When people willfully violate laws they find arbitrary and illogical, like marijuana prohibition, it not only undermines their respect for that particular law, but it can erode their respect for laws in general and for those charged with enforcing them. Replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations will help police regain the trust of the public and will let them focus on real crime.

Elizabeth Comery
Elmgrove Avenue

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