Guest report on Washington State decrim hearing

Thanks to Bailey for sharing this first-hand account…

Wednesday’s hearing by the Washington State House Public Safety &
Emergency Preparedness Committee on a decriminalization bill (HB 1177)
and legalized sales via the state operated liquor stores bill (HB
2401) was a surprising show. Tuesday night Rick Steves, travel author
and NORML adviser, gave a presentation with the Washington ACLU titled
“Marijuana: It’s time for a conversation.” (
It’s the first pot reform infomercial! (Note: Only 50% more
interesting than standard infomercials.) However the discussion with
Steves, three members of the Washington Legislature, and Wash. ACLU
drug policy expert/hottie/new mother Allison Holcomb was entertaining
and informative.

This show helped prepare an already committed grassroots effort for
the House hearing Wednesday. The bulk of the committee hearing was
devoted to decrim/legalization, no sweeping under the rug! First, the
committee chair throws a zinger, despite ample debate time the
committee would not vote on the bills at the hearing but would vote
same time next week. What’s with the cliffhanger? It was implied that
amendments might be added to the bill, and according to some of the
guests, it needs them.

Enter testimony. First, the bills’ sponsors, one of whom managed to
be an active reformer and elected official at the same time. Rep.
Roger Goodman spoke at the Albuquerque Reform Conf. last year, and
this committee hearing proved that he wasn’t just talk. A member of
the committee holding the hearing, and sponsor of the legalization
bill he was cutting off as many common complaints against sensible pot
laws as he could count. Legalization doesn’t let a genie out; the
genie is free and unregulated now. No, we won’t all become pot
zombies, but thanks for stereotyping. This guys a prohib argument

The state bar supports decrim not legalization, same with the King
County (Seattle) Medical Association. The King County Bar supports
both, the ACLU milttdrw (mother I’d like to talk drug reform with)
Allison Holcomb really supports it. Sanho Tree, drug policy chief for
the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington D.C. came all the way
out to explain how supply a demand works. It was probably a gruelingly
long flight for Mr. Tree, but at least the weather was identical to
D.C. A former state senator, some trial lawyers, someone finally
brought up that how establishment the support for legalization
actually was. Favorite line: “States are the laboratories of change.”
Let’s hope.

Then a trio from the Sheriff’s and Police Chief Association spoke,
finally some dissent, it was getting repetitive. Apparently more kids
drink alcohol these days than smoke pot, and that’s cause alcohol is
legal. Could it be that alcohol is more addictive than marijuana? Lets
hope this particular sheriff/police chief isn’t on the case, cause if
his investigations are as shoddy as his testimony we’re in trouble.
Then they opened it up to the citizens, uh oh! This is when democracy
becomes a bad idea.

But then, a miracle, the Washingtonian reformers are by and large
sensible people, even a little square looking by Washington standards.
Some medical patients divided with one or both bills. Some felt that
it jeopardized caregiver/patient growers working with the state’s
existing medical marijuana law. Some felt it monopolized medicine and
dictates amounts or strains to patients with varying needs.

But the opposition to 1177 and 2401 wasn’t done, enter Substance Abuse
Counselors and an actual middle schooler, uh oh, could be trouble.
Addiction counselors, you get 95% of the revenue from pot sales under
this bill, where’s the love? Well their beef is that since youth use
went up in the last Monitoring the Future, and since states all over
the country are interested in medical marijuana laws, accepting
medical marijuana makes teens smoke joints, imagine what legalization
will do! But that was nothing compared to a 9th Grader who had a
speech written by him OR for him. He explained that it was revealed
that 10 of his classmates had been found to be in the pot trade. This
led him to support the same policy that made it so easy for his peers
to get in the business. “Don’t give up on us.” He pleaded. Nobody mock
this boy, I thought the same thing when I was 14.

Well hell, that took us back 10 yards. I could tell from the look of
one committeeman that he was ready to have this 9th grader make the
state’s entire drug policy. More speakers, more opinions, and only one
guy who looked like he just left a rock concert. With nearly a 90
minute pot infomercial of our own the committee was about to gavel to
a close, but wait. I’d signed up to speak, no one called my name,
could I please take the floor before this wonderful exercise in
democracy (extra sweet because it annoys the status quo) was ended??

The chairman, that wonderful man, said I could. And suddenly I was
legalization’s closing argument. (We might be boned.) I submitted some
copies of the comparison chart for drugs properties made popular by
Common Sense for Drug Policy. I took time to point out that alcohol
was more habit forming, and maybe that’s why more teens like to drink.
I reminded (or informed) them that youth use had actually declined
from 2002-2008, a time when medical marijuana states nearly tripled.
Maybe reasonable medical laws don’t make kids get stoned. Then I
pointed out an article unearthed on from 1910, showing
people making the exact same arguments for prohibition a century ago
as now. I was reminding them that teens now use pot more than
cigarettes, even though tobacco is more addictive and totally legal.
The chairman is trying to cut me off, and I thought we were pals!
“Please understand,” I concluded hastily, “that if you want to see a
world where anyone can get any drug, just look out the window, that is
the world we have.” Guess that’ll have to do…

What will the committee decide next week? I counted two definite yea
votes, and two definite nays. Four committee members mimicked
impartiality successfully. Could this pass? The fact that it’s a
practical law makes me think no, governments rarely pass laws that
make sense, but then again, this hearing made me believe that anything
is possible in Washington.

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26 Responses to Guest report on Washington State decrim hearing

  1. ray says:

    Thanks for your efforts Bailey…miricles are happening…so be it

  2. Just me says:

    This just is crazy…the prohibis are still using the same arguements , people are seeing right through this more and more everyday. Thats ok, let them fall on their own swords.

  3. claygooding says:

    The probies don’t have any new material to work with,so they must rely on the same things that worked before,including ethnic slurs and superstition. After all,our government has spent millions of dollars for studies for the last 40 years,trying to find harm in marijuana and have failed. The best they can come up with is possible dangers and it is only evident when they use isolated chemical compounds that they synthesize and administer in quantities that would it be impossible to
    receive from marijuana use.

  4. Bailey says:

    Thanks guys, had some afterthoughts that just came to me:

    With some more rest and consideration, I think the committee’s move will be to pass the decrim bill. It has slightly wider support, and a companion bill in the senate. I don’t know if Governor Gregoire would sign a decrim bill into law, it is an election year. The decrim passage will soften the blow that follows: The legalization bill will get voted down. Partly because there is a significant movement in the legislature to abolish the state liquor control’s monopoly on sales, the system that marijuana is supposed to be integrated into. But mostly because of classic reefer madness.

    I liked the bill, because this was a government run agency that regulated and dispensed recreational drugs, a secure institution to initially allow regulated marijuana sales. Also, I figure the state couldn’t bash the distribution as unaccountable or irresponsible if they ran it. However people have serious concerns about the organization, not as reckless, but as overregulated and inflexible. If votes supporting the legalization bill exceed two then rest assured that the difference were objective legislators won over by the merits of the arguments. Anyone voting against it just hates freedom, bunnies, and the Washington Liquor Control Board. Kiddng!

    For the record, I’ve found the state’s socialized booze dens to be clean, well stocked, and free of underaged patrons. Problem is I don’t drink much…if only they carried something more my speed…

  5. bobreaze says:

    What sickens me is taking a 14 year old and having him testify against something he does not fully understand. So 10 of his friends are involved with marijuana trade guess waht if it were legal and regulated it would be dramaticly less. More like 1 and thats the guy who created a fake ID and is balding early. Then hes not selling the marijuana outright he is just using other peoples money to purchase it and keeping the change.

    What also sickens me is that this student does not get told the harms of prohibition. What if he had an experience like me. Got caught with a small amount on school campus got arrested, asked to rat out his friends, told he should have been drinking by principals. Then i got expelled from school. Yeh i made a dumb mistake but should anyone go through all of that for a few grams of plant matter? The main reason i experienced this zero tolerance prohibition policies. So i believe his argument is awful prohibition doesnt work zero tolerence doesnt work.

  6. Jacob Rocha says:

    Bailey Good form my boy good form. Glad to see you movin and groovin. Keep up the good work im pulling for you my friend.

  7. Alison says:



    We can talk drug reform anytime.


  8. allan420 says:

    way cool bailey… good job on the reporting and great job on speaking truth to power!

    I tell ya what… this is all turning heads. Fence sitters and supporters long in the closet are feeling the climate of safety (that we have created after years of endeavoring on our parts) and they will be a steadily growing part of the movement. Keep up the pressure. I firmly believe that as we continually distill our rhetoric the sharper our words and points become. There is a soft spot in the Prohibition Dragon’s armor and we’re exposing more of it every day.

    And thanks Pete for giving bailey the floor!

  9. DdC says:

    Nice try Bailey,…
    But even the best widget makers end up with widgets.

    Al Capone and Watergate were red herrings to divert the countries attention from the Fascist acts of eliminating competition. Booze/Ethanol or Ganja//Hemp. While GOP and DMC continue to bicker over nonsense. Farmers still can’t grow. Drugs and Ganja are Gateways to prison profits and copshops over flowing in high potency doughnuts. They drink with their plan colombian coffee btw! Not your mothers doughnuts either!

    Nixon lied to schedule Ganja #1

  10. Hope says:

    Alan. I can’t help but occasionally still worry that they still may round people up, “line them up and shoot them”… Darryl Gates style.

  11. Hope says:

    Outstanding work, Bailey. Thank you for reporting and speaking.

    And you, Allison. And Rick Steves and so many.

    This is so wonderful.

  12. Bailey says:

    Thanks for the support guys! Not sure if I can make next week’s hearing. But I did want to sum up a few lesssons for everyone:

    1. Be concise. (I’d explain the mertis in more detail, but then I’d be missing my own point.)

    2. Be passionate about facts. We expect you to be excited about your own opinions, so don’t bother. But its interesting when you’re excited about something you can prove.

    3. Respect childrens right to disagree. If laws don’t change, they’ll be dealing in a few years anyway. But…

    4. Don’t let kids run the debate. Ask them why doing the same thing always done will get different results. Hope they don’t start crying.

    5. Share your experiences. Help others learn, and thereby be better prepared than you were. But when you share…

    6. Don’t make cheeky comments of flirtation in a blog without understanding if the person you’re referring to might read it.

  13. Rachel Kurtz says:

    Bailey, I thought you did an excellent job at the hearing and I was glad you were given the opportunity. Really good idea to use the old newspaper article to illustrate how nothing has changed in 100 years except the millions of dollars and lives that have been wasted. And your last statement to “look out the window” was priceless.

  14. Pete says:

    Thanks, Bailey.

    But don’t worry, Alison didn’t seem to mind too much.

    Never underestimate the staggering reach of Drug WarRant.

  15. Paul Armentano says:


    I was floored to see you take the stage yesterday. Great job. I thought your opening and closing statements were spot on. Some of the best testimony of the day, IMO, and I’m not just saying that because you once interned at NORML. Seriously, great stuff! Keep in touch.

  16. D says:

    Thank you all for testifying on behalf of responsible adult cannabis consumers in Washington State. As a “criminal”, I am left to conceal my “crimes” to maintain my fairly high-visibility employment and the right to continue paying a staggering amount of taxes.

    Again – thank you all for speaking out for our right to choose. Many people are watching but they can’t say so because of the stigma associated with marijuana and the effect of that in their workplace.

  17. D says:

    PS – re: “I counted two definite yea votes, and two definite nays. Four committee members mimicked impartiality successfully.”

    I watched the hearings online yesterday and found this website looking for a prediction on whether either would pass. Any other opinions?

  18. Bailey says:


    Please see my first comment on this article for some more specific thoughts on the bills future.

    I wrote the good Rep. Goodman asking how else I and some other students at the local students could help either bills prospects. I suggested an amendment banning sale of pre-rolled cigarettes. I know, supporting a ban, shame on me. But my feelings are this: I don’t care if people smoke 20 joints a day, but I think you should have to roll them yourself, or load bongs, or whatever you do.

    It’s enabling dependence and maybe addiction for them to be sold in a ready-to-light up joints. I believe this is a clear reality of mainstream cigarettes. I know people who roll their own tobacco, and I’m sure some who do smoke a pack a day or more. But I also know people I’m certain would smoke less cigarettes if they had to stop and roll their own.

    This strikes me as a reasonable constraint to expect on marijuana sales. I don’t expect limits on how much an adult can buy, only that it not be immediately smokable. Thoughts/Retorts?

  19. DavesNotHere says:

    I’ll retort, and I’ll even try to keep my emotions out to be constructive.

    Thanks for everyone working to reduce the number of human beings losing their freedom for no good reason. Thank you Bailey for this update.

    Its better than status quo, but this legislation is not really legalization. It’s a state government run monopoly that is doomed to fail. I’m sure someone thought this compromise of freedom is OK to further the cause, and it probably is, but lets not pretend for a minute this is the freedom cannabis or the people who use it deserve.

    We deserve better than this legislation provides.

    As for tobacco, Bailey, please leave that out of this. Tobacco has been demonized and lied about and controlled more than enough. Banning pre-rolled cigarettes? Seriously? What does THAT have to do with cannabis? To be consistent, since there are double the # of obese adults as adult smokers, do you want to ban pre-made cheeseburgers and fries and soda and candy and chocolate and do you get the idea? If you want to kill yourself with a Snickers, make it yourself?

    If you want to use “control and punishment” to get rid of pre-made cigarettes, how about lifting the ban on personal cigarette making machines? Did you know there is a ban on individuals owning cigarette making machinery that actually work well? What about smokers with Parkinsons or such diseases, who benefit from nicotine, but couldn’t make their own cigarettes because of physical limitations?

    Bailey, do you condone the current laws which says a person with Parkinsons should be locked in a cage if that person owns a cigarette making machine? Would you lock a human being with Parkinsons in a cage if their cousin from a country where there is no ban on pre-made cigarettes sent them a package full?

    Machines that can make cigarettes were invented long ago Bailey, and you can’t undo that capability and knowledge no matter how many guns you want to use to do. Can’t make pre-made cigarette’s here? Well, somewhere in the world they will make them and another stupid war will begin because a few people want to tell other people how they should be living.

    Those are my thoughts. Nothing personal.

  20. D says:

    Should’ve noticed your initial comments. Similarly, I had previously predicted 1177 would get through and not 2401. Here’s what I found on the Stranger that is discouraging:

    “The chair of the committee in question, Representative Christopher Hurst (D-31), says he can’t support the bill because it conflicts with federal law. A former narcotics detective for the Black Diamond Police Department, Hurst holds absolute authority to prevent the marijuana bill from ever leaving his Public Safety Committee.”

    I’m not touching the tobacco thing. If people want to smoke out of the tailpipe of their car, that should be up to them just so long as they’re not harming others.

  21. DavesNotHere says:

    Yeah, I take all the propaganda and tobacco control grabs too personally, but that’s how it works. When you want to tax or ban or control something, you are having a major impact of people’s lives you don’t even know. There are old smokers with arthritis or people with one hand or any number of legitimate reasons to not want to have to make their own cigarettes. Just the time factor alone is like putting a time tax on smokers and that is just punishment, really, and it certainly isn’t helping them. Banning pre-made smokes is just punishing smokers for no good reason.

    If you want other human beings to quit, use your brain and educate them, don’t ask the government to use a gun to do it for you.

    But tobacco is a perfect example for why government monopoly control doesn’t work. I bet if government stayed out of tobacco control we’d have fewer smokers today. I think government policies have delayed our tobacco use evolution and have only created more smokers.

    We have government bans on free, honest speech related to tobacco, and the FDA is trying to ban vaporized nicotine e-cigarettes, and swedish snus have major import restrictions, and smokeless tobacco companies are forced by law (like the Drug Czar) to lie to their customers and can’t say smokeless tobacco is less harmful than smoking, and the list of asinine government control policies over tobacco has done a lot more harm than good. Don’t even get me started on the 2nd hand smoke “science” and its striking similarities to some anti-marijuana “science”.

    Get government out of tobacco (they have both protected and punished big tobacco companies and smokers) and the 5% of nicotine addicts left now would be using swedish snus and nicotine lollipops or whatever science can come up with (assuming the government control of tobacco science ends) that is less harmful than smoking.

    One thing I would be in favor of is full transparency of what is in a product and government has NOT done this well with tobacco. We know there is cancer in there, but what else? Most pre-made cigarettes are not 100% natural tobacco and have additives. We don’t have science on 100% natural tobacco cigarettes.

    Bailey, here is a positive, freedom giving amendment you can offer that might actually reduce smoking instead of punishing smokers. Lift the state ban on truthful, free speech concerning vaporized tobacco, and swedish snus inside Washington businesses.

  22. DdC says:

    Dude, they don’t just lie about Ganja. They just lie as a means to any particular end. The moral of the story is Nixon scheduled cannabis falsely. It is ethically, morally and plain stupid to politicize physics. Nitpicking every town in America for ConPromises is totally the same oppression as long term cancer or terrorism. One day yea the next election keeps bringing a steady flow relying on total BS to keep a viable organic versatile inexpensive home grown product off the market. Medicine to Blue Jeans.

    Removing the scheduling of cannabis will instantly free RxGanja for dispensing and research. Also Hemp. Both not included in the original Marijuana Tax Act. Only after Nixon, during the shadows of Watergate. Just the Business of war maintenance and beating the competition by prohibition. Good Luck, your evil necessity will ease locals minds more than the combat zones of some Neanderthal colonies in Congress, worse in states. But if we permit this lie, then its easier to permit others and where it stops nobody knows. Our credit is shot and our Military and Copshops are taking the details of Americana away for drab and grey regimented regulated obedience to liars.

    Lets try the truth and if the religionists and scared shitless lobby lackey’s legislating the caging of sick elderly Vets for relieving Chemo or PTSD and hiss and gnash their teeth. They will get over it. We shouldn’t be enslaving junkies as snitches comprising 80% of the cases making it easy for cops, like 404 gag rules do for DA’s. When their major harm comes from prohibition. Or interfering with entheogenic exploration, really ain’t no body’s business if your do.

    Ganja/Hemp is or it ain’t. Too many studies and products being sold to even argue anymore. It’s over except for the bickering. Tear Down That Wall Mr Obombachov! Tobacco has had no victims for thousands of years until the same chemical corporations behind cannabis prohibition started hiring Ronnie Rayguns to sell their pleasurable “cigarette”. Maybe adding flame retardants might alter the “pleasure” and even make you sick.

    Ganja used by Lilly in cough syrup for its expectorant effect, coughing up smoke damage from “cigarettes” or thousands of years of camp fires in caves and homes. Ganja is as old as the hills, first cultivated crop and without it we’d all be speaking cockney. No ship sails or famine relief from the protein and oil lubricants and essential fatty acids.

    Greed over rules state morons in politics who probably know this but sell us all out as traitors and human rights violators. Nitpick but its wider than the Ganjawar and deeper than partisan squabbles. The Whole World Is Getting Sick of Watching. Its like that bopping game. Collecting sigs in the rain for the cure all, prop 215. Not recognized by Lungreen.

    That’s when they killed Peter, busted Todd and ran off Rene. A week before 911 they shot Tom 8 times in the head while saving his Rainbow Farm from the Michigan sheriff forfeiture fund. Then 100 FBI shot his partner. John Ashcroft’s investigation stopped as soon as it started. All 20 million busted on Nixon Anslinger fabrications, perpetuated by a corporate media and naive twits “believing” in flase prophet’s profits. 215 is still being Tweaked and arbitrarily canceled by town counsels and landlords even. If they choose to follow the laws seems to be ok. Every town you bop, another pops up. Just pull the plug. Leary overturned the Marihuana Tax Ax as UnConstitutional and that is where it stands in reality, by bringing Justice and Closure. Enuff Allready! Pull the Plug!

    Organic Cannabis/Tobacco vs Chemical Cigarettes

    Connection between John McCain and Anheuser-Busch
    “We are struck by the fact that you consider marijuana to be too ‘damaging to one’s health’ for use even under medical supervision, considering that the Arizona Republic has reported that at least half of your family’s wealth comes from an Anheuser-Busch beer distributorship.

    How Washington’s Plot Against Haiti Worsened The Earthquake Disaster
    The American mainstream media is covering the Haitian earthquake as it always covers natural disasters: by showing graphic footage of wreckage and issuing plaintive calls for donations to aid agencies without any scintilla of political analysis. There is no other phrase for this style of coverage but disaster porn. (more…)

    Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party
    “With scarcely more than a pith helmet, a notebook, and a tattered copy of Escape from Freedom, Erich Fromm’s great study of authoritarian psychology, the dauntless Max Blumenthal set forth years ago to explore the dank forests of American Christianism. Now he has returned to civilization, bringing back a fine collection of shrunken heads and a riveting account of a religio-political subculture that’s even weirder than you thought it was. Republican Gomorrah is an irresistable combination of anthropology and psychopathology that exerts the queasy fascination of (let’s face it) something very like pornography.”
    —Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker

    Feel The Hate 12th posting on youtube
    be quick this one doesn’t last long… Huffy Post banned it.

  23. Bailey says:

    See everything I ranted about myself. Legalizing Legislators, Passionate Testimony, 9th Graders!

    Second video on the list-

    Sorry for not getting this up sooner.

  24. Pete says:

    Bailey, is the ACLU hottie mother on that video as well? 😉

  25. Bailey says:

    Indeed she is Pete. You’ll find that fleeting memories of her sass and eloquence are the only thing that can get you through watching a 9th grader explain why 10 teen dealers in one school means pot laws are workin fine!

  26. Pingback: Washington State Legalization Attempt Update - Drug WarRant

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