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Posts Tagged ‘marijuana legalization’

Crime reporter’s notebook: Police data, fingerprint scanners, weed and a pair of handcuffs

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

 Here are a few recent odds and ends from my reporter’s notebook:

POLICE DATABASE EXPANDS: You may remember the Kitsap Sun story about the Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LinX), in which Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents were working to thread together a database of all reports gathered by local law enforcement agencies. (The effort began in a Levin Road basement.) Keep in mind that prior to 9/11, a lot of data collected by law enforcement, including field interviews, mug shots, and investigative narratives, could only be accessed only by the agency that created them.

I asked Keith Haines, LinX’s regional program manager, how it was going. He said LinX, which already encompasses most law enforcement agencies on both U.S. coasts, has begun integrating with the FBI’s “N-DEx” system, which will host a nationwide database that hopes to include all U.S. law enforcement reports.

FINGERPRINT SCANNERS: Did you know King County Sheriff’s Office is using pocket-sized fingerprint scanners to identify uncooperative and unscrupulous suspects? Regular readers of the Kitsap Sun will know these debuted in Kitsap County five years ago. The followup, by the Seattle Times, is that they’ve got more of the bugs in them worked out.

MARIJUANA ROUNDUP: As the election looms, a number of stories have appeared regarding Initiative 502 in recent weeks. Among the most interesting in my book: More than 241,000 people in Washington state were arrested for marijuana possession over the past 25 years; marijuana backers are getting some states-rights conservatives to support the measure; and a bunch of drug czars have come out against the measure, which they say violates constitutional law and could trigger a “constitutional showdown.”

HOMEOWNER CONFRONTATION: Imagine going outside your home to find someone holding your machete and chainsaw. Not only do you own them, but you wouldn’t want a stranger swinging them at you, either. Last week, a homeowner west of Long Lake had just that encounter — and he wrestled the machete away from the stranger, chased him down the road and told him to stay put until Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies arrived, reports say. Deputies said the suspect remarked that he’d “only get a criminal trespass for this.” Prosecutors have charged him with burglary.

HANDCUFFED AND RUNNING: An Alaska man was arrested Friday for trying to pass counterfeit $20s at Walmart. Poulsbo police responded and the man let them look in his wallet, where officers found six $20s with the same serial numbers. Police had handcuffed the man, who’d also violated probation and had him sit on the push bars of a patrol car. That’s when reports say the man “jumped to his feet and took off running … still in handcuffs.” An officer gave chase and tried his Taser, but missed. The suspect was ultimately tackled and taken the Kitsap County jail.


Kitsap County’s sheriff not ready to support marijuana legalization initiative

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

In his former life as a Washington state trooper, Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer recalls watching a motorist one day drive around a Walmart parking lot, encircling it several times at about three miles an hour. 

Round and round the car went, until Boyer’s hit his overhead lights and brought the car from its crawl to a halt.

The driver was stoned, Boyer recalled.

The sheriff used the story to explain to me his mixed feelings about Initiative 502, which would legalize the possession of marijuana for adults 21 and over. The driver was certainly not the worst he’d ever seen, having responded to too many alcohol-fueled fatality crashes. But he looks at the issue from a public health standpoint: would Washingtonians be better off if they could purchase weed at a store?

“Do you really want to add it to the mix” of our currently legalized libations? he asked.

For the record, Boyer will not be following suit of King County Sheriff Steve Strachan, who has come out in favor of the initiative. Boyer will be voting no on it.

But the issue’s merits are a conversation he wants to have.

“I think it deserves a dialogue and discussion,” he said. “Not just rhetoric.”

He believes that medical marijuana, whose patients in this state have long operated in a legal gray area, can help people. And he does not view pot as a scourge on society in the same way as, say, meth or heroin have been.

“Marijuana being an evil weed causing all the problems in this country? I don’t buy that,” he said.

But here’s why he’s voting no:

  • The plant remains a so-called Schedule 1 narcotic — meaning it has a high potential for abuse and has no value medically — in the eyes of the federal government.
  • Use of any substance not prescribed for medical use — legal or illegal — “do not usually make a person’s life better,” he said.
  • He doubts the criminal justice system will save money by not having to prosecute simple marijuana possession. “There are very few people in jail for recreational marijuana,” he said.

Boyer reiterated his willingness to continue the discuss and that he could change his mind about possible future initiatives. For now, he’s still weighing the issues, but isn’t ready to vote to end marijuana prohibition.

 


Record high: 50 percent of Americans now in favor of legal pot

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

For the first time since Gallup began keeping count, 50 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized. That’s according to its newest poll, released Monday, which also shows that 46 percent still believe the drug should be illegal.

Nonetheless, that’s a far cry from the 1970 numbers, in which only 12 percent of Americans supported legalization.

And bear in mind, we’re not talking about medical marijuana here: this is outright legalization. A previous Gallup poll found greater strength — 70 percent in favor — for providing people pot whose pain and symptoms it could help relieve.

Gallup also broke down its data:

Support for legalizing marijuana is directly and inversely proportional to age, ranging from 62% approval among those 18 to 29 down to 31% among those 65 and older. Liberals are twice as likely as conservatives to favor legalizing marijuana. And Democrats and independents are more likely to be in favor than are Republicans.

More men than women support legalizing the drug. Those in the West and Midwest are more likely to favor it than those in the South.

Interestingly, the numbers of pot legalization proponents have really gone up, doubling in the past 15 years. In 1995, about one in four people was in favor of it being legal. Things really caught fire in 2009. These days, even Washington lawmakers have entertained the possibility of legalizing it.

I’m curious what the sweeping approvals of medical marijuana laws around the country has done to expose the nation to the drug (some 16 states now have laws on the books). My curiosity is less about the notion there’s more legal marijuana in the country, and more about the idea that more people know someone who’s found marijuana effective in curbing their pain.

Rather than debate the age-old question of legalization, my inquiry to you, readers is this: do you believe the medical marijuana movement has advanced the wider legalization movement? Why or why not?


Does Poll Provide Peek into Voters’ Views on Pot?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The Washington Poll, which fancies itself as non-partisan, academic survey, published a litany of results on political issues facing Washingtonians on Monday. One in particular caught my eye: 52 percent of their 1,252 voters surveyed said they were for “removing state civil and criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.”

Initiative 1068 would do just that, and its organizers have been busy getting signatures in Kitsap and beyond. Sensible Washington, the group behind it, says it wants to get 320,000 signatures by July to put it on the November ballot.

Passage of such an initiative — which has counterparts in Oregon and California — would be quite the policy change. But it would pit our state against the federal government, which expressly bans marijuana sale and use of any kind. I’m curious as to what that showdown would look like.

For now, we are left to wonder. But feel free to leave your own views here: what would happen if state law was to legalize pot, yet federal law still said no to it altogether?


Marijuana Initiative: Signature Gatherers Mobilize in Kitsap

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Marijuana legalization advocates have gone to work in Kitsap. Supporters of Initiative 1068 held meetings on Bainbridge, in Poulsbo and in East Bremerton this past week.

Greg Jablonski, one of the chairs of Sensible Washington in Kitsap County, had a turnout of about two dozen people at the Sylvan Way branch of the Kitsap Regional Library. Many who came out Wednesday not only signed petitions, but agreed to collect signatures as well.

Charles Voyce, the other chairman for the campaign in Kitsap County, said he’s passionate about legalizing pot.

“I believe adults should be free to do what they want, within limits,” said Voyce.

Here’s the text of the initiative, per the secretary of state’s Web site:

“This measure would remove state civil and criminal penalties for persons eighteen years or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana. Marijuana would no longer be defined as a “controlled substance.” Civil and criminal penalties relating to drug paraphernalia and provisions authorizing seizure or forfeiture of property would not apply to marijuana-related offenses committed by persons eighteen years or older. The measure would retain current restrictions and penalties applicable to persons under eighteen.”

Sensible Washington wants to collect 320,000 signatures by July to provide a cushion for the required 241,000.

“We’re just getting started,” Jablonski said.


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