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Paid political letter: Join me, a former police officer, in voting Yes on 2

Ideas and opinions in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stance of this paper. The author of this letter has paid for its placement.

Long before the twenty-six years ago that I married into being a North Dakota resident I served as a police officer in North Carolina, having gone to college there and earning a degree in criminal justice. My job as a cop was always more effective when I was able to build trust and respect with members of the community.

This year North Dakotans have a chance to improve community and police relationships by voting yes on Measure 2 to legalize and regulate marijuana. Data from the North Dakota Attorney General’s office shows that roughly half of all drug offense cases each year in our state are for marijuana - and the vast majority of these incidents involve very small amounts. Most of the offenders are in their 20s and 30s, young people who are just beginning to establish families and careers. When someone at that point in their life ends up with a criminal record for marijuana it has devastating effects, both for them as individuals and their families. Their ability to find housing and jobs is affected. Additionally, the relationship between police and the communities they serve becomes strained because more people become offenders for the least violent of offenses. The criminal status of marijuana causes much more harm than good.

After my police service I enlisted in the US Coast Guard. Another reason I support Measure 2 is because it will help veterans and other people with debilitating health conditions. Our existing medical marijuana program can be difficult or nearly impossible to access, particularly if your doctor is part of the VA hospital system, because federal law prohibits VA doctors from participating in state-legal medical marijuana programs. If Measure 2 passes, adults won’t need to join a government database to access safe, regulated cannabis. 

Barbara Schauer
Grand Forks, N.D.