Speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, King County, Washington, Sheriff John Urquhart laid out what may go down as one of the most compelling pro-law-enforcement arguments for legalizing marijuana to ever make it into the Congressional record.
"During my career I've investigated everything from shop lifts to homicides, but I've also spent almost 12 years as a narcotics detective," the lifelong cop explained. "My experience shows me that the war on drugs has been a failure... So the citizens of the state of Washington decided it was time to try something new."
King County, home to Seattle, saw thousands of marijuana enthusiasts toking up in public on election night 2012 as the state became one of the first to pass a legalization initiative. What's unfolded since that night in Washington and Colorado has been nothing short of game-changing for drug reform advocates, many of whom were beside themselves with elation when the Obama administration announced it would not be challenging the states' laws, provided some sort of regulatory framework is in place and vigorously enforced.
"Too often the attitude of the police is, 'We're the cops and you're not, don't tell us how to do our job,'" he continued. "That's the wrong attitude, and I refuse to fall into that trap. The title of this hearing is the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws. I don't see a huge conflict."
"The reality is, we do have complimentary goals and values," Urquhart said. "We all agree we don't want our children using marijuana. We all agree we don't want impaired drivers. We all agree we don't want to continue enriching criminals."
"Washington's law honors those values by separating consumers from gangs and diverting the proceeds from the sale of marijuana toward furthering goals of public safety," he continued. "Legalizing and regulating the possession and the sale of marijuana, is it a better alternative? I think it is, but I'm willing to be proven wrong."
"The only way we'll know, however, is if we are allowed to try."
Watch this video from C-SPAN, posted September 10, 2013 -- Sheriff to DC "Drug war is a failure."