Former Seattle Police Chief on Drug Legalization

Norm Stamper, the former chief of the Seattle Police Department, is no stranger to the drug legalization scene. He wrote the book “Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing” and now has an OpEd in the Los Angeles Times, making a strong argument for law enforcement to Let those dopers be (via TMN):

But no, I don’t favor decriminalization. I favor legalization, and not just of pot but of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, psychotropics, mushrooms and LSD.

[…]Prohibition of alcohol fell flat on its face. The prohibition of other drugs rests on an equally wobbly foundation. Not until we choose to frame responsible drug use – not an oxymoron in my dictionary – as a civil liberty will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter.

[…]How would “regulated legalization” work? It would:

1) Permit private companies to compete for licenses to cultivate, harvest, manufacture, package and peddle drugs.

2) Create a new federal regulatory agency (with no apologies to libertarians or paleo-conservatives).

3) Set and enforce standards of sanitation, potency and purity.

4) Ban advertising.

5) Impose (with congressional approval) taxes, fees and fines to be used for drug-abuse prevention and treatment and to cover the costs of administering the new regulatory agency.

6) Police the industry much as alcoholic beverage control agencies keep a watch on bars and liquor stores at the state level. Such reforms would in no way excuse drug users who commit crimes: driving while impaired, providing drugs to minors, stealing an iPod or a Lexus, assaulting one’s spouse, abusing one’s child. The message is simple. Get loaded, commit a crime, do the time.

This is a long-overdue endorsement, but I have to wonder if the full-steam-ahead approach to legalization will bear fruit or invite complete dismissal as crazy. Hopefully his suggestions gain traction in the public debate, but I’m not holding my breath.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. If enough people call for it, it’s no longer crazy. It’s a long, slow road, but we’re miles ahead of where we were in the mid-80s.

    Yours truly,
    Mr. X

    …taking the long view…

  2. Why are we the crazy ones? I don’t know, although ‘legalization’ would be a step foward, I still don’t like the idea of it being the governments job to hand it out and decide what happens with it. I just think that they’ll regulate the heck out of it and turn it into what it is now. Just my thoughts.

  3. Should marijuana and other drugs be legalized?

    It seems to me that this is the wrong question. The question should be: Should marijuana remain completely unregulated, untaxed and controlled by criminals?

    Because marijuana is now illegal, it is sold only by criminals (criminals who often sell other, much more dangerous drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine). And they often offer free samples of the more dangerous drugs to their marijuana customers. Thus creating the so-called
    “gateway effect.”

    In a regulated market, this would not happen.

    Do the readers know of anyone who has been offered a free bottle of whiskey, rum or vodka when legally buying beer or wine? I don’t either.

    If we regulate, control, and tax the sale and production of marijuana, we close the gateway to hard drugs.

    If we re-legalize, regulate, control and tax all types of recreational and self-medicating drugs, we make the term
    “drug-related crime” obsolete.