Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dope Of The Day: Police Chief Calls Marijuana Legalization 'Nonsense'

Calm down, Chief. It's just pot.
Port Orchard, Wash., Police Chief Al Townsend is against legalizing pot, and he's called a new bill to legalize marijuana in the state "ludicrous."

"If the goal of the bill is to legalize marijuana for the purpose of generating tax revenue, that's ridiculous," Townsend wrote in an email to Kitsap Sun crime reporter Josh Farley.

Chief Townsend calls into question the judgment of his fellow Kitsap Countian, Rep. Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo), one of the co-sponsors of HB 2401, which would legalize marijuana for persons 21 and older.

Police Chief: Legalization Would 'Encourage New Users'
"If [Appleton] isn't proposing that we encourage new users of marijuana, which is clearly debatable here, I'm fairly sure that those who are growing and using marijuana in violation of the laws right now won't have a problem continuing to do so while now avoiding any tax payments or tax laws," he wrote.

OK, chief, since you say it's "clearly debatable," I'm taking you up on your word and debating with you. So you believe legalization would "encourage new users of marijuana"?

We are all certainly entitled to our own opinions. But we are not, Chief, entitled to our own facts.

And the facts are, in countries such as the Netherlands where marijuana has been decriminalized, lifetime prevalence of marijuana use is less than half that of the United States (17 percent for the Netherlands vs. 37 percent for the U.S.). Clearly, American pot laws haven't stopped people from using marijuana -- and clearly, Dutch decrim hasn't encouraged more people to smoke pot.

So much for the "encourage new users" argument. You're going to have to do better than that.

The Tax Thing

​Chief, you point out that under the current system (of which you apparently approve), marijuana users and growers don't pay any taxes on pot, and under legalization, pot would be taxed.

You are absolutely correct sir, and on this point have a firm grip on the facts.

Too bad those facts are absolutely one of the best pro-legalization arguments.

Most marijuana users would love to pay taxes on their pot, if it meant they never, ever again had to worry about well-meaning but pot-hating cops, like, well, like you, Chief.

They'd gladly pay taxes if it meant they'd never again have to worry about you kicking in their doors, taking their children and their homes, and putting them in jail for nothing more than marijuana.

I'd wager you'll never see a happier bunch of folks about having to pay a new tax, as marijuana users will be when (when, not if) it is legalized.

We want to contribute to society and we'll be tickled to death when we're admitted to it as full, dues-paying members rather than viewed as outlaws.

Here's That Damn "Gateway" Again...
​Chief, I see by Josh's blog that you're also worried about marijuana as a "gateway" drug to other controlled substances.

Gateway drug? Please. If you really want us to be scared of marijuana, you're going to need to find something that hasn't been disproved.

"In the United States, the claim that marijuana acts as a gateway to the use of other drugs serves mainly as a rhetorical tool for frightening Americans into believing that winning the war against heroin and cocaine requires waging a battle against the casual use of marijuana," wrote John P. Morgan, M.D., and Lynn Zimmer, Ph.D., two of the foremost researchers in the field, who call the gateway claim "intellectually indefensible."

A 2002 Canadian Senate Committee report states that the gateway theory "has not been validated by empirical research and is considered outdated."

There... Is that the "debate" you were wanting to have?

Chief, next time, I'd suggest maybe you get your facts straight before making a public spectacle of yourself. (Isn't there a "public nuisance" law? Just sayin'.)

...And Those Dangerous Doped-Up Drivers

​Chief, I see that you believe that legalization would make our roadways more dangerous because more people would be high while driving.

First of all, legalizing marijuana would not make it legal to drive while impaired, any more than legalizing alcohol made it legal to drive while drinking.

But here's the thing: People who are inclined to get high and drive are already getting high and driving, and have been for decades. Risk takers take risks.

However, according to scientists, there is in fact "no compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to traffic accidents and fatalities."

Nobody's suggesting that it's a great idea to take bong rips and hit the freeway. But you can bet your ass that if marijuana really did cause automobile accidents like, say, alcohol, that it would be obvious as hell.

And you think maybe that would get some major media attention if it happened, right? Well, it would. If marijuana caused half as many accidents as alcohol -- even a fourth or a tenth as many -- it would get enormous coverage, and pot would never stand a chance of being legalized.

You know the reason we're even having this conversation, Chief? Because people know pot's not that dangerous. They've stopped believing you, Chief. It's time to move on.

With estimates of current marijuana users in the United States varying between 40 and 100 million, you can bet that if weed really caused wrecks, it'd be a national tragedy on the level of drunk driving. It doesn't. It's not. Case closed.

Legalization 'Nonsense'?
"I was under the impression that Ms. Appleton was in the Legislature representing the best interests of the majority of her constituents," Chief Townsend wrote. "This obviously isn't the case here. The bill is ludicrous. And frankly its [sic] disappointing that a member of our Legislature that was elected by the majority of the people in her district is using our time and our tax dollars generating this kind of nonsense."

Hmm... Chief? Speaking of our time and tax dollars, I hope you weren't "on the clock" when you wrote this.

Because I really don't think it's a good idea for you to bring up "our time and our tax dollars" in a discussion about marijuana.

Do you really want to talk about "our tax dollars" and how they fund your futile fight against pot?

What sort of a return are we getting on that investment, Chief? What good does it do society, here in Kitsap County or anywhere else, to arrest marijuana smokers and put them in jail?

What you're doing is removing productive members of society and putting them in jail where they are a drain on taxpayer dollars instead of contributing. And all those arrests, all those jobs lost, homes lost, families lost -- do they make any difference?

Absolutely not, Chief. The most extensive study ever done on the subject shows that marijuana arrests have no impact on usage -- NO IMPACT.

The report further finds that current penalty structures act as a price support mechanism that boosts the illegal market. What do you think of that, Chief? Every day you spend enforcing the marijuana laws, you are doing a BIG favor to those who profit greatly from the black market -- and don't have to pay any taxes on it. I'm sure they'd tell you "thank you" if they could.

​Since you seem so concerned, Chief, about the tax dollars Rep. Appleton might spend in the course of doing her job (and the majority of Washingtonians and Kitsap County residents support her on the marijuana issue), maybe we should be concerned about the tax dollars you spend doing yours.

Specifically, why don't we talk about the tax dollars wasted on marijuana enforcement -- again, having no impact on usage?

That big study we mentioned before, Chief, remember? It showed that we waste almost $170 million a year arresting people for marijuana in Washington.

How much of that tax money do we waste in Kitsap, Chief? How much do you waste in Port Orchard?

And why is it so important that you keep wasting it, again?

Talk about "nonsense"...

Crown This Man

Chief, for your complete disregard for the facts about marijuana, your cavalier dismissal of the will of the people, and especially your callow, unwarranted disrespect for our esteemed leader and legislator Sherry Appleton, Toke of the Town unreservedly, enthusiastically and wholeheartedly awards you the prestigious Dope of the Day Award!

Wear that crown proudly, Chief. You've earned it.


Editor's note: OK folks, I know you wanna email Chief Townsend to congratulate him on this "high" honor.

You can do so by clicking right here:


More Information About Wasted Tax Dollars


Read the original post at the new Village Voice Media cannabis blog, Toke of the Town:

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