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Seattle Times Endorses Marijuana Legalization Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #672)
Drug War Issues

In an editorial appearing in last Sunday's print edition, Washington state's largest circulation daily newspaper has called on the state legislature to legalize marijuana. "Marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed," the Seattle Times editorial board wrote.

The endorsement comes as the legislature ponders House Bill 1550, which would do just that. It also comes just days after a similar endorsement from first term Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes, who published an op-ed titled Washington State Should Lead on Marijuana Legalization in the Times Thursday.

Legalization is within reach in Washington, according to a SurveyUSA poll released late last month. That poll had support for marijuana legalization in general at 51% in the state, although that figure dropped to 47% when respondents were asked if they supported marijuana being sold through state liquor stores, as HB 1550 envisions.

In its Sunday editorial, the Times said the Evergreen State could take the first step toward ending pot prohibition nationwide. "The push to repeal federal prohibition should come from the states, and it should begin with the state of Washington," said the Times.

The Times noted that Washington state had been in the vanguard of medical marijuana legalization and that Seattle had led the move to make adult marijuana possession offenses the lowest law enforcement priority. "It is time for the next step," the Times said.

Declaring that "marijuana is available now," the Times declared that "prohibition has not worked" and has imposed numerous costs -- to people arrested and imprisoned, in wasted law enforcement resources, in corruption and "disrespect for the law," in encouraging a criminal lifestyle among youth, and in lost tax revenues.

Although legalization would put Washington at odds with federal law, leading to a political and legal fight, somebody has to do it, and it might as well be Washington, the Times said.

[Editor's Note: HB 1550 might certainly ignite a political fight, but the legal conflict aspect tends to be overstated. As with state medical marijuana laws, the federal government has been found to have legal power to enforce federal drug laws, even in states that have broken with federal policy, but no federal power has been found which forces states to have drug laws on their own books.]

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


It is time for the prohibition to end. Let the law more fairly reflect societal mores, and provide a windfall in tax revenue for the State. Everyone wins: the State gets tax revenue; adults who want to use marijuana, patients and non-patients, will no longer be forced to go to the black market; and people will see that the emperor has no clothes. The "war on drugs" can regain some credibility and allot resources where they are needed: to fight against crack and heroin and provide help for people caught up in the horrible grip of these true menaces to society.

Sat, 02/19/2011 - 6:08pm Permalink
TJ (not verified)

They should a nation wide ballot to vote on, so as to see exactly how many people would support legal marijuana at federal level. I feel if its more then 50% then the ferderal government should bow to the people and decriminalize it and leave it to the states. I bet if the feds backed off states like california and other progresive states will just make it legal. If legal marijuana is about saving money well then would a state by state thing cost loads of money from courts because their is no way the feds arent going to at least challege it, that might take a couple of years for that to be settled just look at prop 8 with the gay marriage.

Sat, 02/19/2011 - 6:26pm Permalink
darkcycle (not verified)

What a radical and unprecedented departure from the status quo! Kudos, Seattle times. It is great to see that some in the newspaper industry have embraced sane marijuana policy, since the newspaper industry was instrumental in both imposing and maintaining marijuana prohibition. For seventy years  the newspaper industry has been a tool for repression and propaganda against the weed, from W. R. Hearst, right on up to now. It's about time (actually it's about revenue). Bully for the Times. And good on that attorney fellow, too.

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 12:43am Permalink
Gart Valenc (not verified)

I applaud and support any initiative aimed at legalising marijuana. But is not just marijuana we should be calling attention to: the same goes for all drugs. When people call for lifting the prohibition on marijuana, but support the "war on drugs" on any other drug; when people support lifting the ban on the consumption of a particular drug, but demand their supply to remain banned; when people argue that their drug of choice is better (less harmful, less addictive) than others, then one has to conclude that either people are cynical and disingenuous, or that they just simply do not understand what the so-called drug problem is all about. We need to understand that THE PROBLEM IS PROHIBITION ITSELF, not such or such particular drug and that it applies to both supply and demand. 

Gart Valenc

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 6:56am Permalink
Paul Pot (not verified)

Actually, regulate and tax, like alcohol and tobacco means decriminalisation. Legalise would mean anyone could grow and sell it in the market place without permits, licences and fees. And tax would be payed on profits only. Tax money, don't tax things. Those kind of taxes are discriminatory. Remember the 1937 marijuana tax act.

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 11:50am Permalink
darkcycle (not verified)

In reply to by Paul Pot (not verified)

Uh, no. Nothing is "legal" if that's the definition. Even manufacturers and sellers of products like food, hardware, soap, etc. are subject to regulation and licensing. Get real, that's the world we live in. Every thing is regulated, even WATER.

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 11:23pm Permalink
djz (not verified)

Our state has a lot of good ideas and a couple of good bills in front of the lawmakers. Only until the feds remove MM as a schedule I narcotic and at the least consider it a schedule II controlled substance, all points seem moot. a very close look at CA will mirror some of the obstacles in our path.. djz

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 3:13pm Permalink
Duncan20903 (not verified)

Generally when people refer to "decriminalization" concerning this issue they are using it in the sense of California's recent decrim of petty possession which still carries a $100 civil fine.

Across the board decriminalization is what "Paul Pot" refers to as "legalization". It is absolutely absurd to believe that such a leap from absolute prohibition to absolute legalization is possible. The idea isn't isn't even worth typing out. I've got a better chance of getting picked up in a parking lot and used as a sex toy by Angelina Jolie than a scheme of absolute decriminalization/legalization/lack of regulation whatever you want to call the extremist notion that cannabis won't require regulation and taxation to ever become a non-criminal offense. You're not even going to talk a guy like me into supporting a regulatory scheme that doesn't include a strictly enforced age floor of 21. 

It's not only a waste of time to argue for no regulation, it's counter productive because it's a distraction. It enables the enemies of freedom to promote heinous, unreasonable restrictions and confiscatory taxes. I-1068 or whatever the new number is has no chance whatever of passing because of it's incredibly broad lack of any regulations save the age floor of 18.  You just might understand why age 21 is the appropriate floor had you gone to high school with me in the late 1970s, when many States adopted a floor of 18 for beer and wine. The entire time I was in high school enterprising 18 year old seniors would purchase kegs and sell beer to all comers in the woods next to the school. There were lines of students all the way down to the 13 year old Freshmen coming out of the woods and in the parking lot when the kegs were set up in pick up trucks. Stuff like that is guaranteed to get the enemies of freedom up in arms, and will sway the fence sitters over to the prohibitionist  position. We don't have the luxury of a majority to dictate our own rules.

Don't worry, if you don't want to pay taxes you can keep your secret closet grow and avoid them. It's just as absurd to think that suddenly the potheads will be beholden to the rules in a less punitive environment than today as to think a wide open scheme of re-legalization is possible.


Paul Pot is a highly offensive screen name and I'd encourage you to find out what a despicable human being Pol Pot was when he was committing genocide and raping his country of its resources. If after learning what kind of man Pol Pot was you still want to use that name, you have my utmost disgust and derision.

Sun, 02/20/2011 - 6:49pm Permalink
Duncan20903 (not verified)

It is really strange that there are still people who think that Federal law is some kind of obstacle.  Especially attempting to use California as an example. There may still be Federal arrests and prosecutions, but it's certainly no reason to wish for State actions against cannabis users as well.

There is no obstacle to a State repealing any criminal laws because the Feds have similar laws. None whatever. 99% of cannabis arrests occur at State level and while we'll never be completely free without the Feds blessing I'll take 99% free over 100% illegal every single day of the week.

Here's a great example of the difference in a State that doesn't prosecute cannabis offenses vs one that does. Yes, stupid is as stupid does, but stupid puts you in the penitentiary in Oklahoma. In San Francisco it makes you laughing stock. Tell me if you think this fellow wouldn't have been in jail on State charges in Oklahoma:

"Members of a federal marijuana enforcement team caught a whiff of something familiar Thursday as they walked to lunch in San Francisco -- then confiscated about 2 pounds of pot from a passer-by.
The Drug Enforcement Administration agents were near the Philip Burton Federal Building at 1:15 p.m. when a man passed them on the 400 block of Turk Street carrying a cardboard box. The box, emblazoned with the logo of a common brand of hydroponics equipment, reeked of marijuana. "These agents were hungry, just on their way out to grab a sandwich, when this guy walks past them," DEA Special Agent Casey McEnry said. "They couldn't believe it." The narcotics agents stopped the man and asked what was in the box. He showed them about 1.5 pounds of marijuana, 12 ounces of hashish and an electronic scale. Then, in a move that apparently stunned the 20-year-old Eureka resident, the agents took his pot away. While his crime was too minor to prosecute under federal law, the federal government does consider marijuana to be contraband, McEnry said."
Sun, 02/20/2011 - 7:17pm Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

Once again,proving their ability to boggle the mind with stupidity,the conservatives under Stephen Harper have found another windmill to tilt at.Having failed to pass S-10 yet again,I guess Harper needs another drug issue to try to please his base.Citing the Miley Cyrus video and the total lack of any research but a whole bunch of innuendo and hyperbole,Harper has stated that the time is now to add yet another substance to the restricted list.He made the statement right after suggesting that the deaths of two women in a hit and run was a prime time to reintroduce a bill to introduce mandatory minimums for hit and run.The man is nothing if not consistent.He just seems to have this desire to repeat all the mistakes made in the US in the last 40 years,especially when it comes to drugs,his favorite whipping boy and mandatory minimums his top method of removing judicial discretion from the process.He had stated that S-10 would cost 6 billion dollars in the first five years but when asked in the house how much the bill would cost taxpayers he refused to give an answer.This gave the Liberals the excuse they needed to tank the bill yet again.Having stuffed the Senate with conservative party hacks to allow the bill to go through,it was a strange thing for Harper to do,although it would have been a tough sell with the economy moving in fits and starts.It was good to see that a campaign by drug reformers and civil libertarians was successful in convincing the Liberals to join the other two opposition parties to defeat the most draconian legislation the Harperites have tried to float since taking power in 2001.If Washington is the first state to legalize cannabis it will make it all the more difficult for Harper and company to reintroduce any more foolish anti drug bills.It would be nice if Washington would legalize all drugs but I guess you have to start somewhere.Lets not forget it is the mantra of this site to have prohibition ended and to have all drugs made legal.Simply legalizing cannabis will just move the gangsters into harder stuff.We have seen their ability to move product when they feel the need.

Tue, 02/22/2011 - 6:06am Permalink
kickback (not verified)

The city attorney seems to be in opposition to people growing their own.

Tue, 02/22/2011 - 10:26pm Permalink

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