In a column printed in today’s Seattle Times and originally published in the LA Times, former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper courageously and unequivocally comes out in favor of decriminalizing not just pot, but all drugs.

“I’ve never understood why adults shouldn’t enjoy the same right to use verboten drugs as they have to suck on a Marlboro or knock back a scotch and water,” says Stamper. “Will we be able to recognize the abuse of drugs, including alcohol, for what it is: a medical, not a criminal, matter?” he asks.

He further points out the rapidly increasing amount of prisoners in this country for drug charges. In 2003 over 1.6 million Americans were arrested on drug charges, triple the number 20 years earlier.

What a waste of resources; this is more than those arrests for murder, manslaughter, forcible rape and aggravated assault combined, not to mention more damaging corporate and white collar crimes.

Stamper, who has a new book out Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Expose of the Dark Side of American Policing, has always been a different kind of cop. He was very popular in Seattle until the World Trade Organization riots led him to resign. Now he lives quietly on an island in the Puget Sound when he is not out promoting his book.

He is a brave man and his ideas are worth discussing.

In one fell swoop he would get rid of the illicit profits that making drugs illegal has caused, not to mention the crimes and violence associated with illegal drugs. He also would free up billions of dollars currently spent enforcing the laws with the huge bureaucracy of the American justice system.

This is not to mention the medical benefits of marijuana and the added tax revenues that could be used for worthwhile purposes.