You should check out this widget. Designed by the ACLU of Washington, it shows—with a map, pretty pie charts, and data—the county-by-county spending for marijuana enforcement in Washington State.
"People generally know that we’ve been wasting a lot of taxpayer money on the war on marijuana, but don’t have a good sense of how much," ACLU drug policy staffer mark Cooke explains. "They’ve rarely, if ever, had a chance to see the dollar figures." The full findings are result of dozens of records requests, Cooke says. And, of course, the data arrive just before voters will decide the fate of a fall ballot measure to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana.
Collectively, we've spent $211 million statewide from 2000 to 2010 on marijuana crimes, with the most populous counties spending the most. For example: Law enforcement agencies have spent $35 million in King County alone. The largest chucks, at around $9 million each, are for prosecution, defense, and arrests.
What's missing from this data is a sense of the rate of expense; for example, larger counties appear to spend less per resident on pot enforcement. In King County (population 1.9 million), we spent about $18.62 per resident on marijuana enforcement over the decade. But in far-less-populated, more-pot-bustin' places like Clark County—where they spent $10 million and have a population of only 425,000 people—they spent over $23 per resident over the decade. Or look at an even smaller county where there's fewer people but a ton of pot, like Okanagan, where they spent nearly $55 per resident.
As Cooke says, "The map lets everyone see how taxpayer money has been spent both around the state and in their own county." So take a look...