Mr Kampia, Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Dear Mr. Kampia, Arizona State Chair at MPP, and all staff at MPP,
I just reviewed the your recent draft legalization Initiative for Arizona 2016, received by Safer Arizonaz on 4.9.15. I want to commend Mr. Kampia and his team for recognizing and including the right of adult personal grow in the latest version of your initiative. I am a retired State Community Corrections /Probation and Parole Officer from the State of Washington, and a current member of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. In addition, I have recently moved to Arizona and have had some contact with the Safer Arizona Group, Phoenix Norml, and other LEAP members now living in that state.
In Washington State, prior to the implementation of I-502, local elected officials in Seattle area and police, made enforcement of Marijuana use ” the lowest law enforcement priority” This is certainly not the case in Arizona, where prosecutions continue with a vengence. Apparently, as I understand it, the people of Arizona passed the Medical Marijuana bill twice, on two separate occasions, and it was shut down by the Arizona Governor on both occasions. The people had to pass an additional “Voter Protection Act” to force these elected officials to follow the will of the people. The Maricopa County Prosecutor, Bill Montgomery, is still prosecuting card carrying Medical patients, and removing their children from their homes. He recently described a Medical Card carrying disabled Vietnam Veteran, to be an enemy of the State. To say this state has a very aggressive enforcement approach, would be an understatement.
Any initiative that does not allow personal grow rights, albeit with some reasonable regulations, (not to include registry with Law Enforcement) stands to continue the prohibition abuses by law enforcement in Arizona and continue to criminalize and incarcerate non violent persons who choose to use this plant which is clearly safer than alcohol. These people have harmed no one. The draft you produced will allow law enforcement to divert staff to target criminals who actually injure people or their property.
Truth be told, had I written the initiative, I might have added as beneficiaries of the Marijuana Fund, some funding for Forensic Crime Lab techs, to test the untested rape kits in evidence, and to assist in identifying and convicting violent predators and additional training for a few law enforcement staff to investigate the 6,000 child abuse cases that have gone un-investigated here in Arizona. However, I can certainly live with the strong support for education in your initiative. Should it pass into law, Law Enforcement will have ample resources to redirect to fighting real crimes.
I would also consider language that would direct the Arizona State Corrections Department and Judiciary to review, in a timely manner, those cases where individuals are currently being incarcerated, for behavior that would be legal under this initiative, and expedite their release from confinement and correctional supervision. Including this item in your initiative will save the State of Arizona additional millions of dollars and allow Law Enforcement to focus more effectively on violent and property crime. In my view, the War on Drugs is at the root of Law Enforcement’s damaged relations with communities across America.
Thank you again for working to reform this most tragic, and damaging public policy.
Thomas Gillam ,
Retired Washington State Department of Corrections
Member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition