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  1. Greenport
    Legalization and regulation of marijuana discussed in Washington State jonik-sayno10.jpg

    House legislators and citizens gathered together today in Olympia, WA to discuss the legalization and regulation of marijuana in Washington State.

    Based on the hearing, legislators and citizens made their opinions quite clear - the people want to see regulation of cannabis in Washington State rather than criminalization of medical and recreational users.

    However, there was a lot of concern regarding the relation of these bills to medical marijuana users, and many medical marijuana activists spoke out against the bill(s) or in favor of amendments which protect the medical marijuana patient's rights, since these are not discussed at-length in either of the two bills.

    Representative Dave Upthegrove started out the hearing, stating he thinks the bill is an important step for the health and safety of the community by allowing law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes, and by putting money we currently use to jail marijuana-users towards drug treatment which will hopefully make our streets safer in the end. "I think the public is way ahead of us on this", said Rep. Upthegrove.

    Representative Mary Lou Dickerson stated that her first motivation was the fiscal situation of Washington State. She listed several budget cuts that she has seen as a result of the debt the state is currently in. Dickerson then said, a statement which brought a disruption to the hearing due to clapping, "[The liquor control board is] estimating that this bill will bring in when it's fully in effect, over 300 million dollars a biennium."

    Representative Roger Goodman stated that he believes the word legalization is probably a poor choice for the bills. He stated that we are not "throwing in the towel" by legalizing marijuana, rather that we are putting it out of the hands of children by 'regulating' the drug and makes a clear distinction between the two words. Goodman says that because the market is unregulated, marijuana sales are in the hands of criminals who are making untaxed and unregulated profits in an illegal market.

    A key point mentioned during the hearing was the American Medical Association's reconsideration on their stance of medical marijuana. Pointed out by Rep. Dickerson, many members of the hearing were quite surprised to hear this and hadn't known about this news previously. She believes that, if passed, mexican drug cartels and other dangerous organizations responsible for the spread of marijuana and damage to national forests by the cartels growing in forestland will fade away in place of legitimate sales, in much the same way that criminals like Al Capone faded when alcohol prohibition ended.

    Although there was overwhelming support for the regulation of marijuana in Washington State, not all of the speakers were for the bills. Several groups relating to substance addiction came on the record stating they think that legalization of marijuana will result in increase use and addiction, and that they oppose the bills. Others opposed the bills for more specific reasons, one person even stating that they were both "the worst bills ever written."

    A ninth grader made a statement saying he believes that this bill will only increase drug use in schools and that we should be thinking of the future of our children before rushing to enact any such legislation. This was challenged by Rep. Goodman, Goodman stating that the bill would regulate marijuana and force it to be sold in liquor stores where only those over 21 can get access, and that penalties would result for giving/selling marijuana to 'children' under the age of 21.

    One person noted a rather important point - Even though these bills would decriminalize/legalize marijuana, if the drug is in a baggie or the user is carrying a pipe or other smoking device on their person, it could still result in misdemeanor charges and possibly jailtime, and that such an issue needs to be further dealt with.

    One cause of controversy during the hearing was that the regulated marijuana would be sold in liquor stores - it was pointed out that selling marijuana and alcohol together in the same location is a bad idea since the combination of the two drugs has been found to result in trouble - and that in other nations marijuana and alcohol are not sold at the same location for this very reason.

    Many citizens spoke out their opinions for and against the bills - so many in fact that there were about seven people who did not get their voices heard due to time-constraints.

    There will be a vote on the bills at the same time (1:30pm) next week (Wednesday, January 20, 2010) - they have decided to push it to next week to give time for amendments to be made to the bill.

    If you would like to view the two-hour hearing, it can be found at http://www.tvw.org/media/MediaPlayer.cfm?evid=2010010080&TYPE=V&bhcp=1

Comments

  1. Matt The Funk
    Please post this in the correct format (source is needed, unless you wrote this yourself). Actually I think you did write this yourself, thanks for putting in your input! Great summary.

    I am pretty disappointed I didn't make it to the hearing thanks to health problems but managed to catch the whole thing on TVW. I have to say the issue was covered entirely for the most part and the issues regarding medical cannabis, full out legalization, and homegrowing/non-corprate growing are the biggest issues and my own personal problems with the bills. The medical issues deserved more time, but they were already cut short (as stated) on time and I believe the motivation for this bill is purely financial.
    The 40 gram bill I had less disagreements with than the alcohol regulation style bill, but if improved upon to include the medical community more this would be a GREAT step in the right direction. The diversity of the public hearing was great and seemed to show overwhelming support for legalization in general. It will be interesting to see how they vote in a week.
  2. Greenport
    I did indeed write this myself :) Thanks for the compliment! Didn't take a year of journalism for nothin hehe.

    Personally I think there is a lot more they can do with these bills to make them work out better ..but it is definitely a step in the right direction and they have potential..IF the amendments that are tacked on make sense. There's a few things that were brought out at the hearing that definitely signify some things need to be updated before the final bill is voted upon, but the general atmosphere made it seem that 80% of the people in that room wanted a bill similar to this to pass.

    Lol some of those speakers were just too much tho ..like that one biker guy with the weed hat xD. I felt he actually might've put us a step back with his comments. Oh and it was interesting too that NORML didn't support the bill - guess it didn't meet their standards.
  3. Raoul duke420
    Hell yea, thanks for putting in the time to write a very informative article. Those classes def paid off! Swim sure would like to see this pass, that would be such a step in the right direction.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    Awesome! is this the first DF reporter? :laugh:

    Having lived in WA for over a decade I often thought WA would beat CA to legalization, and probably do it better. former police chief gil kerlikowske who is now the "Drug czar" and norm stamper were both extremely progressive about harm reduction and drug decriminilization. :thumbsup: Even before medical marijuana was legalized in the state turtle new of a number of grow ops where the police simply walked out when they found evidence it was part of Green Cross.

    good stuff.
  5. Greenport
    Thanks again :) Yeah WA is very relaxed about pot laws ..I'm personally surprised they haven't taken this initiative a long time ago. Last year there was some talk about decriminalization/legalization but the bill was put into the 'X-file' and never heard from again. But it's a new year, and with that brings new ideas about drug-policy, and it sure looks like we're off to a good start!
  6. Matt The Funk
    I think NORML did not support the bills for the same reasons a fair amount of people don't. They were written poorly with too many flaws, including issues among medical patients, growing, arrests, and that it isn't the kind of legalization NORML wants too see.

    I definitely agree with what the vibe appeared to be and them having good potential though. I thought maybe one or two of the pro-bill speakers gave a "negative" look but I thought the one kids opinion (middle schooler?) was pretty uncalled for. It seemed like a low-blow. To make it more even I would have loved to have seen an under 18 patient speak. Overall I think it will keep moving forward and eventually get passed. It really needs to be fixed though. Were you at the hearing?
  7. Greenport
    Yeah I couldn't help but think after the ninth grader spoke that perhaps he had some other hidden agenda..maybe someone paid him to say that.

    And no, I wish :( I streamed the whole thing and watched it all the way through but lacking transportation, there wouldn't have been a way for me to get there. If I would have thought about it a week ago I may have gotten a ride and tried to speak there.

    I've always wanted to speak publicly about my opinions one day, and people have told me in the past that I would do quite well at it. However I'd be scared that it may haunt me one day which is one reason I like the relative (don't think anyone here knows who I rly am, hope not :p) anonymity here.
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