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 â€” 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 â€” 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 â€” 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 â€” 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 â€” 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:
- 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.
- 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.