Enforcing laws against the personal possession of marijuana cost the Washington county of Thurston, home to the capital city of Olympia, $18.5 million over a ten-year period, according to data analysis by the Thurston County Chapter of Washington NORML.
Rose Eilts, NORML Thurston County Director, who is a CPA with over 20 years experience, analyzed ten years of data from FBI Uniform Crime Reports and Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Arrest Statistic Reports for the cities Olympia, Tumwater, Lacey Rainier, Tenino, Yelm, the Evergreen State College and Nisqually Tribe. For this study, Thurston County Sheriff’s Department was unable to provide adult arrest data for the years 2002 – 2006. County Sheriff’s Department has indicated those statistics are not available.
Financial information was gathered from city and county budgets or published financial statements to calculate the overall cost of enforcement. Then, the overall cost of enforcement was divided by the total arrests for that jurisdiction, to arrive at an average cost per arrest.
In releasing the report, NORML Thurston County Director Rose Eilts said “These jurisdictions spent $18.5 million dollars between the years 2002 and 2011 for marijuana possession enforcement. Each of these jurisdictions should adopt a lowest enforcement policy towards adult personal use of marijuana. A single arrest for possession can result in a lifetime of collateral consequences, making it difficult to get a job, find a place to live, or even open a bank account. There are better uses for our tax dollars.”
An even better solution is for the people of Washington to adopt a no enforcement policy towards adult personal use of marijuana by passing I-502 and legalizing it.