Marijuana bills denounced as "nonsense"
OLYMPIA – Debate is heating up at the Capitol today on whether the state can save money and raise revenue by legalizing the growing, selling and smoking of marijuana.
A public hearing is occurring this afternoon on bills to reduce penalties for adults possessing small amounts of marijuana and to let adults use it legally as is done with alcohol. Marijuana could be sold, and taxed, at state-owned liquor stores, under the proposal.
This morning, Gov. Chris Gregoire and the leader of a statewide law enforcement group spoke sharply against the legislative efforts.
“I can’t sit here and make something legal in Washington that is illegal in this country,” Gregoire told reporters in the morning.
Don Pierce, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, denounced as “nonsense” the contention of legalization supporters that changing the law could net the state up to $1 billion in revenue.
"We don’t need our schools, our highways, our factories, our airplane cockpits full of people high on marijuana,” he said.
Lessening punishment for possession would invite increased use among juveniles, he said.
“There are lots of kids out there who don’t use marijuana because it is illegal. If we say to them it’s legal or we are going to decriminalize it but you’re not old enough they will substitute their judgment and do so,” he said. “We see it all the time with alcohol.”
By Jerry Cornfield