The group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an organization comprised of police officers, prosecutors, judges and other criminal justice professionals, endorsed Initiative 502 in Washington State. The initiative, if approved by voters, would legalize and tightly regulate marijuana for adults over the age of 21. From LEAP’s endorsement:

Norm Stamper, the former Seattle chief and a spokesman for the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said, “Everyone knows that marijuana prohibition has failed. When even those who once worked to enforce these laws are saying this, the only logical next step is to enact a system that legalizes, regulates and controls marijuana. Doing so will not only take money away from the gangs and cartels that sell marijuana now, but will generate new, much-needed revenue that can be used to pay the salaries of police officers and teachers and for substance abuse prevention and education.”

David Nichols, a retired judge in Bellingham, added, “Replacing the criminalization of the marijuana trade with a public health approach grounded in science will allow our criminal justice system to fully focus on stopping and solving violent crimes and crimes against property. We don’t need the backs of our police cars, our courtrooms or our jails filled with people caught on marijuana charges.”

It is not too surprising that a group dedicated to ending prohibition would endorse a marijuana legalization ballot measure, but their active involvement in the effort to getting it approved should be very helpful.

As former cops and judges, LEAP members are often better able to convince older and more conservative voters to support reform. Their experience and background can carrry weight with some groups that are less inclined to see legalization as a good move. While it is possible to show people that statistics proving the war on marijuana has been a policy failure, the personal stories of people who were directly involved in this “war” are often more effective at swaying opinion.