|Marijuana’s going mainstream.|
Six House Democrats have filed a bill in the Washington State Legislature to legalize marijuana.
The bill, which would make pot legal for those 21 or older, would use nearly all the money raised through sales at state liquor/marijuana stores for substance abuse treatment and prevention.
Marijuana revenues will probably be comparable to those for alcohol, according to Dickerson. Alcohol revenues run about $330 million yearly in Washington.
The six Democratic legislators sponsoring the bill are Mary Lou Dickerson and Scott White of Seattle, Roger Goodman of Kirkland, David Upthegrove of Des Moines, Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo and Mary Helen Roberts of Lynwood.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican, is already on record as opposing the bill. “Like most of my colleagues in law enforcement, like my father who was in law enforcement, I’m not a big fan of making marijuana available without a prescription,” McKenna said.
|Rep. Maryt Louy Dickerson: “I’m happy to start the conversation”|
Dickerson said she doesn’t expect the bill to pass. “I’m happy to start the conversation,” she told Seattle political site PubliCola. “If more states start talking about [legalizing marijuana]it will get the attention of Congress.”
“This bill is a wonderful step forward for health, human rights, and social justice,” marijuana researcher Dr. Sunil Aggarwal of Seattle told Toke of the Town. “No one should be criminalized for using marijuana, when far more dangerous drugs such as malt liquor are legally consumed. There should be equal rights for those who choose to consume cannabis.”
“With the likes of Roger Goodman and the work that he’s done over the years with the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project, this bill really has a chance,” local activist Allison Bigelow told us.
House Bill 2401 is 78 pages long, reports Peter Callaghan of The Tacoma News Tribune, but most of that is a result of meticulously finding every reference to marijuana in state law and either removing it from criminal codes or adding it to liquor laws.
Activists have expressed concern about the bill’s equivalence of alcohol and marijuana laws, and the fact that in its current form it prohibits personal (non-licensed by the state) cultivation.
|Activist Vivian McPeak: “It is very hard for me to embrace the idea of treating cannabis as alcohol”|
”It is very hard for me to embrace the idea of treating cannabis as alcohol, because there is just no comparison between the two substances as far as impairment, health effects, and addiction,” marijuana activist Vivian McPeak told Toke of the Town.
“Perhaps this is the model we must use to change the dominant paradigm, but I feel we should fight tooth and nail to have cannabis put into its own unique classification,” McPeak told us. “Simply compare death rates associated with the two substances and you’ll see they do not belong in the same category.”
“The bill does remove all current civil and criminal penalties regarding marijuana. And the bill regulates marijuana like we regulate alcohol — which, it so happens, introduces a myriad of new crimes,” one frustrated Seattle activist said.
But there’s also the plausible argument that legalization, even of the sort in HB 2401 with its state monopoly on pot, could be a quantum leap over the deeply fucked up situation on the ground now in Washington: Recreational (as in non-medical) users unlucky enough to be arrested are presently subjected to a mandatory night in jail, possible additional jail or prison time, steep fines, and other indignities.