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Seattle is getting ready

This is probably the strongest, most well-written newspaper editorial that I’ve ever seen for the legalization of marijuana.

The Washington Legislature should legalize marijuana in the Seattle Times.

MARIJUANA should be legalized, regulated and taxed. The push to repeal federal prohibition should come from the states, and it should begin with the state of Washington.

In 1998, Washington was one of the earliest to vote for medical marijuana. It was a leap of faith, and the right decision. […]

It is time for the next step. It is a leap, yes — but not such a big one, now.

Still, it is not an easy decision. We have known children who changed from brilliant students to slackers by smoking marijuana at a young age. We have also known of many users who have gone on to have responsible and successful lives. One of them is president of the United States.

Like alcohol, most people can handle marijuana. Some can’t.

There is a deep urge among parents to say: “No. Don’t allow it. We don’t want it.” We understand the feeling. We have felt it ourselves. Certainly the life of a parent would be easier if everyone had no choice but to be straight and sober all the time. But an intoxicant-free world is not the one we have, nor is it the one most adults want.

Marijuana is available now. If your child doesn’t smoke it, maybe it is because your parenting works. But prohibition has not worked.

It might work in North Korea. But in America, prohibition is the pursuit of the impossible. It does impose huge costs.

The article goes on to detail those costs in ways rarely seen in the media, and then:

Some drugs have such horrible effects on the human body that the costs of prohibition may be worth it. Not marijuana. This state’s experience with medical marijuana and Seattle’s tolerance policy suggest that with cannabis, legalization will work — and surprisingly well.

Not only will it work, but it is coming. You can feel it.

Wow. Great stuff.

And this is just two days after Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes wrote an OpEd in that paper: Washington state should lead on marijuana legalization

MARIJUANA prohibition is more than a practical failure; it has been a misuse of both taxpayer dollars and the government’s authority over the people.

As the steward of reduced prosecutorial dollars, I am the first Seattle city attorney to stop prosecuting marijuana-possession cases and to call for the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana for adult recreational use.

We have long since agreed as a society that substances should not be prohibited by the government simply because they can be harmful if misused or consumed in excess. Alcohol, food and cars can all be extremely dangerous under certain circumstances, and cigarettes are almost always harmful in the long term. All these things kill many people every year.

But we don’t try to ban any of them — because we can’t, and we don’t need to. Instead, we regulate their manufacture and use, we tax them, and we encourage those who choose to use them to do so in as safe a manner as possible.

Remember, this is a city attorney speaking. Aren’t they supposed to be all gung-ho about prosecuting anyone who breaks the law and trying to pass more laws so you’ve got more tools to prosecute them? Here’s a city attorney who thinks on a broader scale.

My focus as city attorney is to ensure that we have ways to regulate the production and distribution of any potentially harmful substance so that we limit the potential risk and harm. Outright prohibition is an ineffective means of doing this.

Instead, I support tightening laws against driving while stoned, preventing the sale of marijuana to minors, and ensuring that anything other than small-scale noncommercial marijuana production takes place in regulated agricultural facilities — and not residential basements.

He even takes a pro-law enforcement position:

Ending marijuana prohibition is pro-law enforcement because it would enhance the legitimacy of our laws and law enforcement. As Albert Einstein said of Prohibition in 1921, “Nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.”

Marijuana prohibition cannot be and has not been consistently enforced, and keeping it on the books diminishes the people’s respect for law enforcement. […]

Ending marijuana prohibition and focusing on rational regulation and taxation is a pro-public safety, pro-public health, pro-limited government policy. I urge the state Legislature to move down this road.

This is great stuff. Congratulations Seattle.

I’ve got a friend living in Seattle who has gotten more interested in drug policy reform partly in recent years, and he’s been quite excited by recent developments in his area, and these two articles in particular.

I think it is true that we are getting closer and closer to that critical mass level — the point at which public opinion overwhelmingly shifts to our side, not just in answering a poll favorably, but in demanding change. When that happens, the politician have no choice but to follow.

It may not happen as fast as we’d like (it certainly won’t), but I believe it’s inevitable, for two main reasons:

  1. The more people learn about prohibition, the more they’re likely to shake off their propaganda blinds and support reform. That means as long as we’re out there educating more people, the support will always grow and never shrink.
  2. Once brought on board to reform, the more people learn, the more angry and motivated and insistent they get (just check out the angst in the comments here now and then for a taste of that). This means that there will continue to be a larger subgroup of support that is not just in favor of reform, but considers drug policy reform a matter of critical importance (as opposed to the “oh, yeah, I favor legalization, but the time isn’t right and we have bigger things to do right now.”)

So bring it on, Seattle. Take another shot that will be heard round the country. Whether you succeed or not this time, you’re bringing us another step closer.

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31 comments to Seattle is getting ready

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    Mr. Holmes had leaving the potheads alone as a plank in his election platform. Yeah, and he even got elected.

    http://tinyurl.com/holmes-jan-21-legalize-and-tax
    that’s a .pdf he wrote in January.

    Pete Holmes easily defeats incumbent Tom Carr in Seattle city-attorney race

    /snip/
    “Holmes said his first priority will be trying to stop a new jail from being built in Seattle. During the campaign, Holmes also promised to stop prosecuting people for simple marijuana possession. And he said he would consider moving the city’s nine domestic-violence advocates out of the attorney’s office.”
    /snip/

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2010195999_elexseaatty04m.html

    I didn’t know until just now that he defeated the incumbent. Defeated him by 62-38. Kicked his opponent’s ass up and down the block, he did. Did the incumbent get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy or something?

    • Lee

      Tom Carr lost for a number of reasons, but being a drug warrior was certainly one of them. He was also very heavy-handed with Seattle’s clubs and bars. And maybe worst of all, he was caught lying about his record repeatedly.

  • Chris

    I see lots of comments on that article about how stoned drivers are going to cause accidents. People are already driving stoned right now all the time and no one notices because they are rarely noticeably impaired. And while NORML is always going to say that no one should ever do that, we all know that in reality it is not a big deal. Tokers drive slowly and swerve inside of the lines, drunks drive speed across entire lanes and outside the road. Every article about a crash always has a combination of alcohol and while I would like to blame inexperienced users, I’ve yet to even see an article using that excuse. Do they really think that legalizing it would change anything? Or do they just refuse to believe that people are already smoking and driving?

    But that’s besides the point, stoned drivers are a non-issue in regards to legalization. Laws regarding impaired driving will not change and society’s attitude towards impaired driving will remain the same. We’re talking about righting a great injustice and people are bringing up what basically amounts to an emotional red herring that will remain unchanged regardless of whether drugs are legal or not.

    • It’s hard to convince people that stoned drivers are safe, even if it’s true. Actually, Paul Armentano or Ethan Nadelmann (I can’t remember which) tried a new approach in an interview recently that might have some legs.

      His statement was that legalization could result in a reduction in highway crashes, since some people will switch from alcohol to marijuana, and alcohol is a much more dangerous combination with driving.

      So rather than trying to convince people that marijuana driving is safe, we show that legalization will lead to a reduction in drunk driving.

      It’s in interesting approach.

    • This is not my America

      If I would have to make a choice between a drunk driver and a stoned drive…its the stoned driver hands down everytime. Ive been both and know full well whos dangerous.

  • vicky vampire

    Yeah the comments on this are pretty good,Yup Chris your post above they are driving stoned argument to death,In reality most Americans on roads are impaired cause lack of good Rem-Sleep and even with copious amounts of Caffeine and other stimulants,still are half asleep and out of it,when they drive but I Guess no one talks about that.

    • This is not my America

      Im more worried about teen drivers than I ever would be stoned drivers. Those all hopped up on caffeine drinks(monter, amp and such) are more apt to speed and make snap decisions trying to get work on time….there are many I feel are more dangerous than a stoned driver. Im not bias…just know its true.

  • WASHINGTON IS ON THE RIGHT PATH. I LOOK FORWARD TO OTHER STATES FOLLOWING THEIR EXAMPLE AND GIVING LEGISLATURES AND OTHER PEOPLE THE OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS RIGHT.
    GREAT JOB AND GOOD LUCK!

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marijuana News, 420twithead. 420twithead said: RT @WeedFeed: FROM WEB: Seattle is getting ready http://bit.ly/enhDeC #mmot […]

  • claygooding

    The prohibs are just repeating after Kerli,because every time he gets close to a microphone he starts spouting twisted research and statistics that do not indicate how he got his response or that it is more than hyperbole.

    More spin.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      C’mon Clay, give the poor man a break. It can’t be easy to run a campaign of misinformation using only bald faced lies, half truths, and hysterical rhetoric and not end up looking like a buffoon. Doing that job takes the talent of Madoff.

      You know when I first heard old Bernie got sentenced to 150 years I thought, “what a waste of time to give 150 years to a 70 year old man.” But after further reflection I realized that the judge was a very wise man. He realized that if anyone could cheat the Grim Reaper, it would be Mr. Madoff. We need to be grateful that he was never named drug czar or we’d be in a shit stew.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    The Know Nothings understand that there are people driving stoned. But they also believe that altar boys who sing in the church choir on Sundays and Wednesdays and spends the rest of his time volunteering at the soup kitchen and helping little old ladies negotiate busy traffic intersection will not be able to resist the seductive siren song of merry wanna addiction if it were re-legalized. Subsequently all these people who are so law abiding they won’t enjoy cannabis because it’s illegal will transmogrify into horrid scofflaws and go out driving.

    I think it’s an act of sheer stupidity to argue with Know Nothings that cannabis doesn’t have a detrimental effect on driving. You know it, I know it, my auto & life insurance company knows it but it just makes Know Nothings turn off if you try to discuss it. I’m so confident in my driving abilities after enjoying cannabis that I’m fine with whatever draconian law the can come up with as long as it’s applied only to the impaired who get caught. I very much can find myself too high to drive if I eat too many ABT cookies. Guess what? I pull over and stop driving, or just don’t get behind the wheel. It’s still an issue that we’re not ever going to talk them into believing.

    They used the same hysterical rhetoric when California was debating Prop 215. At the end of last year, SAMHSA released statistics that prove them wrong. Here’s one of my boilerplates, you may have seen this before as I get it up a dozen times a week or more:

    You say driving while drugged has increased because of medical cannabis, and there is carnage and mayhem on the highways? That’s the trouble with hysterical rhetoric, it’s so often wrong, wrong, wrong. California has led the US to a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of “drugged” driving during the same time frame when the number of Californians claiming the protection of Prop 215/SB-420 more than tripled.

    On 12/10/2010 SAMHSA published the results of a study of the incidence in “drugged” driving and was pleased to announce that the nation…wide incidence of “drugged” driving had declined by a statistically significant percentage. They were also pleased to announce that there was not even a single State which had suffered a statistically significant increase in the incidence of “drugged” driving.

    SAMHSA credited the nationwide statistically significant reduction in “drugged” driving to the 7 States which also enjoyed a statistically significant decreases in its incidence during the study’s time frame.

    4 of the 7 States are States that have laws like Prop 215 which decriminalize medicinal cannabis. Alaska, Hawaii, Michigan, and (hold onto your hat!) California, the latter is of course the Know Nothing prohibitionists “poster child” for medical cannabis run amuck. But that’s why I call them Know Nothings, because they simply know nothing about that which they seem so certain is true.

    Attention Know Nothings: Read ’em and weep:
    http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205/DruggedDriving.htm

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    As far as impaired driving is concerned it’s idiocy to demand a separate chemical test for every new drug that comes along. There’s no reason why a simulator or video game like test couldn’t be developed to test for impairment. It would catch anyone impaired for whatever reason. Alcohol, pot, sominex, no-dohs, sleep deprivation, whatever. Impaired is impaired.

  • Outlier

    I recently read Daniel Okrent’s excellent book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. After reading it and noticing all the incredible similarities between alcohol and marijuana prohibition, I truly believe and hope we have reached the beginning of the end or at least the end of the beginning of prohibition. This is not suggest it won’t take as much effort as we can spare to end this oppression, but I believe we have reached a tipping point that has made prohibition become unsustainable. One of the biggest reasons the states began refusing to enforce alcohol prohibition was the lost tax revenue and the increased law enforcement expenditures. Between the Great Recession and the new health care reform law which will require increased spending on Medicaid from all 50 states, state governments will be looking for any way they can to up their revenues and cut out unnecessary expenditures. As California and Colorado have shown the viability of medical marijuana taxation to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, other states will follow suit. In the Tea Party dominated Arizona legislature, a medical marijuana tax is one of the only revenue streams they will even consider. Most state representatives are not well informed on this issue and a constituent call or letter can go a long way towards building momentum for the end of prohibition.

    • Julian

      I feel exactly as you do. Historically speaking, it feels as though we have entered the point during alcohol prohibition where everything started to unravel from lack of funding. When it comes down to it politicians will have to decide between the lesser of two evils for themselves. Wisconsin is a perfect example of why cannabis will start being re-legalized soon. In order to fuel the prohibition machine, the states need money. The only way to get that money is to cut more Social Services, Raise Taxes, or Lower Wages and most people feel as though the government has taken away enough only to tax them more for the less they are now getting. Soon it will come to a head and when it does I believe most people would rather see cannabis taxed and regulated like alcohol then lose more social services, get more pay cuts, or be required to pay more taxes. Like I have said before, The only thing politicians care about more than their cash cows is getting re-elected and you can’t get re-elected if to many people don’t support your actions. If you choose to raise taxes, cut social services, or cut pay when there is a viable, afforable, alternative the people are aware of re-election will not be an easy task and they know it. The old timers are merely delaying the inevitable in a desperate hope that somehow things are not the way they are. Remember the repeal of alcohol prohibition. It literally happened over night. It went from “a Hummingbirds chance to fly to mars with the empire state building on its tail” to “where do I sign this historic and long over do bill?”

  • DdC

    Seattle Hempfest Sues City of Seattle for 2011 Permit
    Denied a location by the city of Seattle, organizers of the world’s largest gathering of speakers on hemp and marijuana policy, Seattle Hempfest, have been forced to take legal action to obtain a permit. full story

    New Medical Marijuana Farmers Market Opens In Seattle On Feb 27, 2011

    “A single glass of wine will impair your driving more than smoking a joint. And under certain test conditions, the complex way alcohol and cannabis combine to affect driving behaviour suggests that someone who has taken both may drive less recklessly than a person who is simply drunk”.
    ~ New Scientist March 2002

    Cannabis and Driving

    THC’s effects after doses up to 300 g/kg never exceeded alcohol’s at BACs of 0.08 g% and were in no way unusual compared to many medicinal drugs (Robbe 1994). Yet THC’s effects differ qualitatively from many other drugs, especially alcohol. Evidence from the present and previous studies strongly suggests that alcohol encourages risky driving whereas THC encourage greater caution, at least in experiments. Another way THC seems to differ qualitatively from many other drugs is that the former’s users seem better able to compensate for its adverse effects while driving under the influence.
    ~ Hindrik W.J. Robbe
    Institute for Human Psychopharmacology,
    University of Limburg,
    P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

    Field Impairment Testing (FIT)
    FIT 2000 Series
    Fitness-for-Duty
    Impairment Screeners
    30-second test. PMI has developed a unique technology to measure human impairment. It’s proprietary technology can assess whether a person is significantly impaired by fatigue, legal medications, illegal drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation; alone or in combination.

  • denmark

    And right about now I’m proud to be a Washington state resident.
    The drugged driving thing is a farce. When I first got my medical cannabis card I was apprehensive to drive after taking my medicine. The ridiculous term being used, drugged driving, turned out to be a false alarm. I do drive better now, much better.

  • primus

    Julian: Over DUE.

  • This is not my America

    I have written my senator once again today. I gave him my veiw of many things including prohibition . I dont think its productive to just write about prohibition…gotta kill many birds with one stone.

    Pen and paper or email people…just do it. Change is upon us all.

  • Lee

    Pete,
    There’s no question that things are looking up here. The Seattle Times has been beaten up over this issue because the city’s other media publications have been far ahead of them in understanding its importance. They’ve also long been seen as a very “nanny-state” newspaper. There was an internal debate on their ed board over this and the folks who wanted to publicly support legalization won out.

    Sensible Washington is set to start gathering signatures for a statewide initiative and the legalization bill in the House has numerous co-sponsors and is getting a lot of news coverage.

    To give you a good idea of where we’re at, the Seattle Times editorial was one of the lead stories on the local NBC news broadcast last night. Just the editorial itself. We’re getting there.

  • Ian

    If the bill didn’t propose to sell it through the state liquor stores, it would have a much better chance of success. In California MMJ is simultaneously illegal and legal with regards to federal and state law and it works well enough. If a MMJ patient runs into a law enforcement official who is employed by California, they’ll be fine in the unlikely event that the officer is employed by the federal government, they’re screwed. But state-owned liquor stores openly selling weed are a lot more likely to run into a DEA agent than an independent medical dispensary. No legal battle is going to overturn Raich under this Supreme Court. Washington should privatize the liquor stores and then legalize it. The DEA would still be able waste time and money to bust stores for the reward of bad-publicity but they wouldn’t be able to indict every government worker associated with the liquor stores for criminal conspiracy.

  • Regarding:

    Marijuana is available now. If your child doesn’t smoke it, maybe it is because your parenting works. But prohibition has not worked.

    The folks who believe that their darling children will never smoke pot as long as it’s illegal are the same folks who believe that their darling children will never have sex as long as they don’t take a sex education class. Hard to know how you penetrate a skull that thick.

    • DdC

      “What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”
      ~ Jim: [consoling Bart]
      Blazing Saddles. (1974)

      They obeyed the Jim Crow and Segregation laws to the letter, while running moonshine way past the speed limit, both government intrusions. King George lapdogs, waiting for the bone, to trickle down. Before the next war eats it up. Can’t fix stupid, good for the corporatists, they exploit themselves following blindly. Don’t need a tyrant just wave a flag at them. They protest against their own clean air and water. Have no remorse about caging sick people toking Ganja. Have no need for teachers or much education. Just one book tells what you need, the others only confuse the agenda. Plenty of diversions on the box with assorted balls, and all sorts of things to get comatose and forget what might upset you. The Rich eat the roads and bridges and workers bodies to get richer, stashing their tax responsibility in some Cayman island Headquarters. But the Dick Armey of Teebogs and Oxyrush ditzo’s, drug thugs, worriers and DEAth Merchants. Just blame the Poor and the Unions, for living wages and compensation if you’re hurt on the job. Damn commie bastards! If the owner decides to NAFTA or GATT your job away for cheaper labor. It’s your patriotic duty not to complain. What do the rednecks say about that? Health Care is only for socialists and sissies? Bail out the banks with borrowed money paying more interest than it would take to fix things. Borrow more money to pay Bob Doles welfare for not farming. Or Exxon to clean up their mess or Mr Peabody’s mountaintop removal coal company or the cows living in scenic wonders trashing the streams on subsidies. A trillion bucks keeping Hemp off the market, unless they really do care about the health of the stoners. Two trillion dollar police actions subsidizing Cheney’s retirement and Haliburtons law suit for asbestos poisoning people. Think Bernie Made off on his own? Think unlimited campaign financing will improve the pickings? Too many ignorant among the too damn many period.

      Give Me Some Truth : I’m sick and tired of hearing things from uptight-short sighted- narrow minded hypocritics. All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth. I’ve had enough of reading things by nuerotic-pyschotic- pig headed politicians. All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth. No short haired-yellow bellied son of tricky dicky is gonna mother hubbard soft soap me with just a pocketful of hope. Money for dope. Money for rope. I’m sick to death of seeing things from tight lipped- condescending -mommies little chauvinists. All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth. I’ve had enough of watching scenes of schizophrenic – ego – centric – paranoic – prima – donnas. All I want is the truth. Just give me some truth. ~ John Lennon

      Other Palm Beach County residents implicated in Madoff’s Ponzi

      FraudBytes: Bernie Madoff Implicates Banks and Hedge Funds

      Bernie Madoff’s Jailhouse Interview: Banks Were “Complicit”

      “I would have loved for them to not lose anything, but that was a risk they were well aware of by investing in the market,” he wrote.

      Caveat emptor, people. What I don’t find hard to believe in the least is Madoff’s main assertion — that the big banks and hedge funds that funneled money into his $65 billion Ponzi scheme knew something was fishy, but chose to look away:

      “They had to know,” Mr. Madoff said. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’ ”

      The solution is simple. Eat the rich…

  • Gart

    I applaud and support any initiative aimed at legalising marijuana. But is not just marijuana we should be calling attention to: the same goes for all drugs. When people call for lifting the prohibition on marijuana, but support the “war on drugs” on any other drug; when people support lifting the ban on the consumption of a particular drug, but demand their supply to remain banned; when people argue that their drug of choice is better (less harmful, less addictive) than others, then one has to conclude that either people are cynical and disingenuous, or that they just simply do not understand what the so-called drug problem is all about. We need to understand that THE PROBLEM IS PROHIBITION ITSELF, not such or such particular drug and that it applies to both supply and demand.

    Gart Valenc

    http://www.stopthewarondrugs.org

  • darkcycle

    Proud to be a Washington State resident. sensiblewashington.org
    Still the best, soonest chance for legalization. This bill is good, but intentionally and terminally flawed. The federal government through the agency of the Justice Department would never allow it. The supremacy of the Commerce Clause is at stake. They will NEVER willingly give up what is essentially omnipotence. And the Washington State legislature lacks the spine to seriously challenge the federal government unless dictated to by the people via initiative. So…
    sensiblewashington.org

  • Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/01/vote-teapot-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

  • DdC

    Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body.

    … and there lies the problem if you “treat” these ailments for huge profits. Fascist don’t need no alternatives, cures or prevention. Especially if it grows like a weed in the herb garden. There is absolutely NO logical, moral or ethical reason to continue banishing such a useful plant. Just greed and gullible “marks” to exploit by flimflam.
    Go Willie. I like it.

    I was wondering?

    Why Do You Think They Call it DOPE?

    * Cannabis Hemp: The Invisible Prohibition Revealed

    * The Elkhorn Manifesto

    * Marijuana and Hemp: The Untold Story

    * The Nation of Apathetic Puppets By John Pilger

    * Maintaining Dysfunction

    NORML: Grass the Movie

    The Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp (CRRH) goal is to educate people about the medicinal and industrial uses for cannabis in our global society in order to restore hemp cultivation and end adult cannabis prohibition.

  • […] Times sticks to its guns After the Seattle Times came out with a powerful editorial for marijuana legalization last month, the drug czar was immediately on a plane to go talk to them. […]