The legalization of marijuana in Washington gives government an opportunity “to significantly improve the criminal justice system for the next generation,” Washington State University criminal justice professor David Brody writes in the Seattle Times. A windfall of half a billion dollars in tax revenue is projected by 2015, according to the state. State and local leaders should use the money to invest in law enforcement, criminal courts and the prison system, agencies that have been starved of resources in recent years.
He writes, “Let's use this money to improve law and order in Washington state.” While 15 percent of state tax revenue generated by marijuana sales is already earmarked for substance-abuse treatment, state and local governments will gain access to many millions of dollars of discretionary funds annually. The decriminalization of marijuana possession will free the criminal justice system from dealing with the thousands of arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations of individuals for illegal possession of marijuana. The elimination of the approximately 10,000 such cases per year will save taxpayers several millions of dollars annually.