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  1. Greenport
    Marijuana regulation legislation in Washington State does not pass committee

    pot_gabel_small.jpg Proposed legislation in Washington State last week which would have decriminalized and regulated personal amounts of marijuana state-wide did not pass the house committee.

    The two house bills, HB 2401 and HB 1177, were scheduled for a vote today, January 20, 2009 at 1:30pm, after last week's public hearing and move to allow for more time to amend the bills and correct some of the issues contained therein. After an executive session, both bills did not pass the committee - HB 2401 failing with a vote of 2 aye, 7 nay while HB 1177 had a final vote of 3 aye, 5 nay.

    House Bill 2401, which aims to decriminalize and regulate marijuana, putting it in the hands of the liquor control board, was voted on first. Representative Christopher Hurst, mirroring Governor Chris Gregoire's comments last week on the bills, stated he cannot choose a yes-vote on the bills because he took an oath to uphold both state and federal law when elected into his term, and that because this bill would violate federal law he cannot vote for it. This stance was challenged by Rep. Goodman, arguing that states are well-within their rights to pass such legislation, noting that many already have - and that doing so would take the pressure off our law-enforcement and help save room in our overcrowded jails for true criminals who need to be off our streets.

    Rep. Brad Klippert, who voted no on HB 2401 made a note to clarify the American Medical Association's stance on marijuana, stating that the AMA now supports the use of medical marijuana, but that such statement should not be viewed as a statement for legalization of marijuana. According to the AMA, "Our american medical association urges that marijuana's status as a federal schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines. This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product."

    Rep. Goodman, who strongly supports the bills, believes that they would help remove drugs out of the school system and increase respect for law-enforcement, since currently our law officers have the impossible task of enforcing a law which people do not respect, and therefore the people cannot respect those who enforce it. He wishes to regulate it in the same way we regulate other hazardous substances and believes HB 2401 would have done so.

    Representative Kirby was supportive of measures to decriminalize and regulate marijuana, but was not in support of these specific bills. In regards to HB 2401, he stated he believes he could support a bill such as this, but not particularly this bill because it lacks important details that need to be addressed. He stated he thinks that the public needs to vote on this bill, stating "I've had a lot of people talk to me about how the public is ready for this, while others say there's no way the public is ready for this. Well I know a really good way to find out...Now we could put an amendment like that on this bill, but I wouldn't want to put this bill out for a vote to the public...Don't count me all the way out, but count me out today, because this is not the one."

    After the 2 to 7 failing vote on House Bill 2401, Rep. Al O'Brien stated he would vote yes for House bill 1177. "Seattle decriminalized marijuana back in the late 1980s, and there was no problem associated with decriminalization...by decriminalizing it, we take the criminal part away. If [law-enforcement] picks up somebody for small amount or use, they're not going to jail...They're still subject to a fine, it's still not legalized," said O'Brien. He mentions that it would take pressure off government and law-enforcement, and keep small-time users out of our overcrowding jail-system which would save our jail-space and law-enforcement resources for our more dangerous criminals.

    Rep. Appleton, who is in favor of marijuana decriminalization was originally going to vote no based on the failing of a verbal amendment by Rep. Goodman, stating that the bill as-is would not change the law to make the possession of small amounts a civil citation. However after a 2-minute recess for clarification, she changed her stance back to a yes vote. Had the bill passed, a class II civil citation would result in a $100 fine for anybody caught in Washington State with a small amount of marijuana.

    After Rep. Appleton's points, Goodman quickly stated that in absence of regulation, at least we can lower the penalties for the use of marijuana by passing HB 1177. He noted that in all the states where marijuana has been decriminalized, marijuana-use did not increase. Rep. Hurst then mentioned he disagreed with the bill for the same reasons he did with HB 2401. "If you are charged with possession of marijuana in federal court, you will be convicted of a federal drug crime - and you will not be able to rent, you will not be able to get a loan, you will not be able to get about 70 percent of jobs in this country...If we tell citizens in Washington State that...it is not a crime...and they are convicted of a crime, we have sentenced that person...to a lifetime of despair. And I'm not prepared to tell Washington citizens that that is what is okay when federal law it's not," said Rep. Hurst.

    Speaking in relation to the comments made last week by a teenager regarding drug-use in schools, Rep. Pearson stated that he did not support the bill on the grounds that passing such legislation would increase teenage pot-use, and he doesn't want to do anything which would make drugs seem safer to kids. "I'm looking at the future of our young people, and I'm a no," said Pearson.

    Goodman further clarified that this bill would not be in violation of federal law and that other states which have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana are not in violation of said-laws. HB 1177 was then voted on and did not pass with a vote of 3 to 5.

    If you would like to watch the vote, it can be found here. The bills themselves can be found at the following locations: HB 1177 and HB 2401 - note the latter two links do redirect to a government server.

    (Article was self-written)
    January 20, 2010

Comments

  1. Herbal Healer 019
    It seems that in this case the committee is well aware of that koosh "super marijuana" that's raping our youth...
  2. Greenport
    Actually there was nothing brought up on the potency of various strains of marijuana, neither in the hearing nor during the comments before the vote. It seems the main reason the bills didn't pass were that they were rather poorly-written and didn't focus on many of the major important issues.

    Even medical marijuana proponents, and NORML did not back the bills.

    I think that if the bills were re-written, addressing some of the concerns people and the other representatives have, that they would have a chance to pass. However it does seem that Christopher Hurst isn't going to support any such legislation unless the federal government limits the penalties first - such as by moving the substance to schedule II.
  3. Raoul duke420
    Damn! Swim was pretty sure this would be the outcome for this bill but was still hoping for it to pass. Oh well, swim and his fellow stoners will still be out in force at seattle hempfest in 2010 to represent for the herb!
  4. chillinwill
    Efforts to reform Washington state's marijuana laws were voted down by a House committee Wednesday.

    The Public Safety Committee rejected a measure to legalize marijuana for those 21 and older, and another that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot for adults.

    Chairman Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, voted against both, saying he couldn't vote for something that conflicted with federal law.

    He said that while there were powerful arguments for why marijuana regulation should be left to the states and not the federal government, "I took an oath of office to uphold the state constitution and the federal constitution."

    "I cannot, in good conscious, pass a law or vote for a law that in my opinion, is against federal law," Hurst said.

    Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Federal Way, said that the fact that marijuana is illegal doesn't make its use any less prevalent.

    "I want to regulate a product that potentially has hazardous consequences," he said. "A 'no' vote on this bill is a vote for prohibition and the illegal markets that it spawns."

    The legalization bill failed on a 6-2 vote, with two other Democrats crossing over and voting with Hurst and Republicans: Reps. Al O'Brien of Mountlake Terrace and Steve Kirby of Tacoma.

    Under the legalization bill, marijuana would be sold in Washington state's 160 state-run liquor stores, and customers who are 21 and older, would pay a tax of 15 percent per gram. The measure would have dedicated most of the money raised for substance abuse prevention and treatment, which is facing potential cuts in the state budget as lawmakers seek to patch a $2.6 billion hole.

    "The amount of money that we could realize over legalizing it and regulating it is close to $300 million a year," said Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, who voted for both measures. "My feeling is that this is the time to challenge the federal government and we should be doing that."

    The decriminalization bill would reclassify adult possession of marijuana from a crime with jail time to a civil infraction with a $100 penalty.

    It failed on a 5-3 vote, with Rep. O'Brien crossing back over and voting with Appleton and Goodman to pass it. A decriminalization measure is still alive in the Senate, although a public hearing hasn't been scheduled for it.

    Last week, activists in Washington state filed a ballot initiative that would legalize all adult marijuana possession, manufacturing and sales.

    If the initiative qualifies for the ballot, it will ask voters to remove all state criminal penalties for adults who possess, grow and distribute pot - no matter how much. Criminal penalties for juveniles who possess marijuana and for those who provide the drug to minors would remain in place. Driving under the influence of the drug also would still be illegal.

    Supporters must gather more than 240,000 signatures by July 2 to qualify for the November ballot.

    ---

    The marijuana legalization measure is House Bill 2401. The decriminalization bill is House Bill 1177. The Senate decriminalization measure is Senate Bill 5615.

    By RACHEL LA CORTE
    January 20, 2010
    The News Tribune
    http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/northwest/story/1036740.html
  5. Ravaged
    A Bill to Decriminalize Pot Is Popular with Voters—So Why Won't the Legislature Pass It?
  6. prodigalpathos
    This really needs to hurry up and get passed. Silly Washington State and delaying the inevitable.
  7. Greenport
    Yeah it's pretty inevitable that everybody in Washington State wants to see marijuana decriminalized..everyone except the governor that is :/ She stated publicly that she would veto any bill that comes her way on marijuana decriminalization, and we would have to overturn her veto by a 2/3's majority to win. But even most of the house committee members were in support, one way or another, of decriminalization - they just didn't support 'these' bills, or had other reasons such as federal law not to vote to pass them.

    Ah how much swiM would love that day when we overturn the governor ..that's not gonna be easy but omg swiM'd be so happy! :D
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