Cops, politicians call on feds to stay out of Washington pot law

BY Chris Sullivan on November 20, 2012 @ 11:19 am (Updated: 12:57 pm - 11/20/12)

Seventy-three current and former police officers, judges and prosecutors have sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging him to respect the rights of the voters of Washington and Colorado when it comes to marijuana.

Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper is among those signing the letter, which calls on federal officials to stay out of the states' decisions to legalize pot possession.

"This is not a challenge to you, but an invitation - an invitation to help return our profession to the principles that made us enter law enforcement in the first place," the letter said.

"I think it's fairly well-determined that the people of this state have said 'we've had enough of this marijuana prohibition and we'd like to find a better way to regulate and control the use of marijuana for adults over 21,'" said Tony Ryan, a former police officer in Colorado.

While voters in both Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana possession, federal law still prohibits it.

The letter comes one day after Washington Congressman Adam Smith and 16 other members of Congress sent a separate letter to Holder and the top DEA administrator to "take no action" against anyone in Washington or Colorado who chooses to smoke marijuana for medicinal or personal use.

"These states have chosen to move from a drug policy that spends millions of dollars turning ordinary Americans into criminals toward one that will tightly regulate the use of marijuana while raising tax revenue to support cash-strapped state and local governments," the letter said.

The letter calls on the feds to allow the states to become "laboratories of democracy."

"We believe this approach embraces the goals of existing federal marijuana law: to stop international trafficking, deter domestic organized criminal organizations, stop violence associated with the drug trade and protect children," it said.

The letter from the law enforcement officers, judges and prosecutors argues the war on drugs continues to fail while criminalizing otherwise law abiding citizens.

"The war on marijuana has contributed to tens of thousands of deaths both here and south of the border, it has empowered and expanded criminal networks and it has destroyed the mutual feeling of respect once enjoyed between citizens and police. It has not, however, reduced the supply or the demand of the drug and has only served to further alienate - through arrest and imprisonment - those who consume it," the letter said.