Madison Police Chief Wants To Legalize Pot To Fund Drug Treatment

By McCarton Ackerman 09/16/14

Police Chief Mike Koval pointed to Colorado and Washington as examples, though Wisconsin is not likely to follow their lead anytime soon.

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The police chief of Madison, WI, has endorsed legalizing and regulating marijuana within the state as a means of funding drug treatment programs for harder substances.

Citing data which showed that African-Americans in Madison were arrested or cited for marijuana offenses at 12 times the rate of whites, police chief Mike Koval called efforts to enforce laws against marijuana and the war on drugs an “abject failure,” insisting new laws needed to be put into place. He also said government officials need to begin tackling the “infinite number of challenges” posed by heroin in the state.

“We’ve done such an abysmal job using marijuana as a centerpiece of drug enforcement, that it’s time to reorder and triage the necessities of what’s more important now,” said Koval. He believes that taxing legal marijuana could also fund expanding drug court programs.

Koval cited the experiments conducted by Colorado and Washington to legalize weed as examples to follow, though such a path may prove difficult to follow in Wisconsin for the foreseeable future. While a bill to legalize marijuana was introduced this year by State Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), it stands little chance of becoming law.

Marijuana remains illegal in the state for either personal or medical use. Currently there are 23 states that allow for medical marijuana, a number that's sure to increase following the 2014 election.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.