Should Washington Legalize Marijuana? HB 1550 Is Latest Proposal

OLYMPIA, Washington — A plan to legalize Marijuana and sell it at Washington state liquor stores has found some unlikely allies, including a former Seattle police chief, and the union representing more than 40,000 state health care workers.

Several other local politicians and activists — on both sides of the issue — were on hand for a hearing in Olympia on Tuesday to discuss House Bill 1550, which seeks to regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.

“I’m here in support of the legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana for adult recreational use,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said.

Holmes said that the state should take profits from the sale of marijuana away from drug cartels so it can be sold in liquor stores and taxed.

State Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, a sponsor of the bill, said the state could make $200 million per year by legalizing the drug and selling it in liquor stores.

“The only people who are profiting from this prohibition are the drug cartels and the black market criminals who are involved,” Dickerson said.

Heather Villanueva, a representative of SIEU Local 775, the union that represents many of the state’s health care workers, said the union also supports legalizing marijuana.

“It could preserve home care services for 40,000 seniors and people with disabilities,” Villanueva said.

Other people also spoke up in support:

  • “It makes no sense for this state to be so deeply in debt and look the other way as this underground cash flow goes through,” said former Thurston County Deputy Prosecutor Ken Valz.
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  • “Marijuana prosecutions place a large and unjustified burden on courts and law enforcement,” said Mark Fordham with the King County Bar Association. 

    The Bar Association also supports legalization and said enforcing marijuana violations is costly and ruins people’s lives.

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  • Mark Jones said he can’t get a job after being busted for growing pot. 

    “(Potential employers) basically wave my application off and in the garbage can,” Jones said.

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  • Former Seattle police Chief Norm Stamper wrote a letter to lawmakers saying that marijuana laws don’t work.

 

Plenty of people are against the legalization of marijuana, too.

Police organizations and substance abuse groups said they worry about the message legalizing marijuana would send to kids.

“I firmly believe the legalization of this will cause and increase in our youth the usage of marijuana,” said Pat Slack with the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force.

Opponents say the lure of cash can’t mask the potential long-term danger to children.

“We’re really concerned about our youth,” said Liz Wilhelm with the Washington Association for Substance Abuse. “That is the biggest question we have here, is that legalizing marijuana would increase consumption among youth.”

The legal drinking age in Washington is currently 21, and under HB 1550, the same age restriction would apply to the sale of marijuana.

A statement about the bill from the National Office Of Drug Control Policy where former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske is the director, was sent by spokeswoman Katherine Bush Tuesday.

“At a time when youth drug use is on the rise, efforts to legalize marijuana in Washington send a dangerous message to young people and significantly hurt the efforts of parents working hard every day to raise drug-free, safe, and healthy young people. Legalization remains a non-starter in the Obama Administration because research shows that marijuana use is associated with voluntary treatment admissions, fatal drugged driving accidents, mental illness, and emergency room admissions.”

via : KIRO TV

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