By Steve Elliott
Twenty-year law enforcement veteran Richard Van Winkler, superintendent for the Cheshire County Department of Corrections in New Hampshire, on Monday told Vermont Public Radio that decriminalization doesn't go far enough, and the legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana is the way to go.
"If we decriminalize we allow the illegal drug enterprise to flourish," said Van Winkler, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), reports Mitch Wertlieb at VPR. "If we legalize, control, regulate, tax in the same way that we do for alcohol, we put the illegal drug dealer out of business."
Van Winkler stressed that advocating for legalization isn't the same as advocating for cannabis use; he said that it costs about $32,000 to keep each nonviolent drug offender locked up every year, reports David Edwards at The Raw Story.
"The fact is policies like mandatory minimum sentencing, drug war issues have meant that the United States has had to build over 900 jail beds every two weeks for the last 20 years, this while violent crime in our country is at a 30-year low," Van Winkler pointed out.
Noting that two states, Colorado and Washington, had already legalized marijuana. "Guess what? The sky is not falling," he said.