Initiative To Regulate Marijuana Stirs Discussion
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Initiative To Regulate Marijuana Stirs Discussion
Posted by CN Staff on April 27, 2012 at 05:56:05 PT
By Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Source: Seattle Times
Seattle -- If there's one thing that brings people together, it's this: Marijuana regulation is a mess.But the granular details about how to fix it divided a panel of law-enforcement and public-health experts convened Thursday night to debate Initiative 502, a landmark proposal to regulate and tax marijuana like liquor that is on the November ballot. John McKay, who filed the initiative after witnessing the "complete failure" of marijuana prohibition as the U.S. Attorney in Seattle for six years, said legalization was a "simple solution."
"If it's a failure, does that mean we need to try something new?" asked McKay. "There's millions of dollars in marijuana produced out there, but it's all going to cartels, it's going to gangs. The change should be to bring legal business in, and grow it legally."The state estimates that I-502, the first marijuana initiative on the ballot since voters authorized medical cannabis in 1998, would raise $560 million a year via state-licensed marijuana grow farms and retail stores. If passed, it would be the nation's most radical change in marijuana law in generations.But Pat Slack, commander of the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force, scoffed at McKay's core argument, that heavily taxed marijuana would end the black market."You will open a black market where you can sell this product for cheaper than what the government is selling," he said.The debate, at Mukilteo City Hall, is part of a series of forums kicking off the nationally watched campaign. I-502 would decriminalize possession of 1 ounce of marijuana, and legalize and heavily tax sales from newly created, state-licensed marijuana stores, with the state Liquor Control Board setting regulations by December, 2013.Colorado is the only other state with marijuana legalization on its November ballot.I-502's supporters include another former U.S. Attorney, a retired FBI supervisor, several judges, public-health officials, a drug researcher, the King County Labor Council, the state Democratic Party, as well as Seattle's mayor, city attorney and entire City Council."We've been at this 42 years. We have never seen an amalgam of prominent local politicians still in good standing come out in favor of a reform measure as bold as this," Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, a leading marijuana-legalization group, said in an interview.But law-enforcement groups and medical-marijuana patients have lined up against I-502, for very different reasons. Police, including Slack, say it is a gateway to greater marijuana acceptance, especially among youth.Patients fear a new driving-while-stoned threshold in I-502 would effectively prevent them from legally driving. A strong contingent of them watched the debate, peppering McKay and another supporter, University of Washington marijuana researcher Roger Roffman, with questions.Roffman defended those provisions as a political necessity."The public would not consider a sea change of this nature were it not to take into account public safety," he said.A Gallup Poll in October found nationwide support for legalizing marijuana was above 50 percent for the first time in the 42 years since Gallup started asking the question. In Washington, a poll in November on I-502's specific approach found 57 percent support.I-502 doesn't amend the state medical-marijuana law, and Slack said adding a new set of laws would complicate police officers' already difficulty task of sifting legal from illegal cannabis. The driving-under-the-influence provisions, for example, could require time-consuming blood draws to detect active THC content in drivers."My goal is not to arrest everyone in this room," Slack said. "My goal is to help you stay within the lines of the law. But right now, the lines of the law are pretty damn confusing for us."If passed, the state Office of Financial Management estimates that at least 363,000 customers would buy at least 93.5 tons of marijuana, each year. But the marijuana tax-revenue projections — at least $130 million more than the state garnered under the old state liquor — are guesses, because no state has done what I-502 proposes.About 10,000 people are arrested for marijuana possession each year, although not all are prosecuted. When the debate panel struggled, in response to a question from the audience, to explain why marijuana was classified along with PCP and methamphetamine, McKay paused."It's interesting that we can't articulate why," he said. "I think most people know in their experience that it is ludicrous."Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times Staff ReporterPublished: April 26, 2012Copyright: 2012 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by greenmed on April 28, 2012 at 14:35:05 PT
discussion stirred
Ekim has informed us of the Patients Out of Time Conference happening now in Tucson, conference talks are currently being uploaded as soon as they are recorded, available here:, ekim, and Chris Bennett on FB for the link.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on April 27, 2012 at 20:38:09 PT
Afterburner Comment 2
Reading that article about the mayors I saw this article in that same paper about Marc Emery.Prince of Pot Marc Emery: Pest or prophet?
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on April 27, 2012 at 09:40:44 PT
right on
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Comment #4 posted by Oleg the Tumor on April 27, 2012 at 08:58:55 PT:
The Work before Us
"It's interesting that we can't articulate why,"John McKay has it right. For Congress to act to prohibit something, anything, (let alone destroy an entire industry) there must be a "clear and present danger" that would make inaction negligence.
So why did Congress choose to act in 1937?"Interesting", doesn't quite say it all. Not by a longshot.
I would love to see an investigation into the act of Congress that started all of this foolishness.
We would see that this is where humans separated from nature and walked away (again).The Rockefellers saw the competition between "his" petroleum, representing the technological achievements of the "New World Order" (as advertised on the back of the one dollar bill) over the natural world. 
It's the old "Man Dominates Nature" theme, retooled for the industrial age.  
Here was a raw, organic commodity that generated different categories of profits for the man who owned a company that controlled the driller, the transporter, the refiner, and finally the sellers of fuels, lubricants and the most "interesting" aspect of petroleum of all: polymer science, remember, "Plastics Make It Possible", especially if you're a big fan of the Pacific gyre–that biologically indigestible continent of plastic pieces swirling around the center of the world's largest ocean.But in the early 30s, industrial hemp still had a few problems.
A specialized machine to do for hemp what the cotton gin did for cotton–separate everything out mechanically to improve yield and lower costs-was still being "developed". Suspiciously, the decorting machine never saw the light of day. 
Also in the early 30s, DuPont was pursuing the infancy of polymer science with the best organic chemist of his day, Wallace Carothers. Their goal was a synthetic fiber.
At stake was the lucrative naval contracts for rope and all manner of fiber products.Americans are used to seeing competing technologies duke it out for survival, then market dominance. This is a cycle that repeats over and over. 
Westinghouse beat Edison (now it sounds like a high school ball game), which is why we have alternating current.
Later on, VHS would beat Betamax.
Our LPs were replaced by CDs (and we were lied to, they do so skip!)
Eventually, digital would replace analog, etc."Das clausterfokken" that began in the 1930s heralded "the synthetic" as an improvement over "the natural".
This is when America turned away from biofuels, biodiversity and everything else, "bio-", or pertaining to life, as if the alternative has some appeal.The Hopi Indians prediction of Man walking away from his nature and "taking the hard road" seems to be coming to pass.So by all means, yes, let's investigate this terribly interesting decision by Congress in 1937. And while we are at it, we should also investigate the suicide of Dr. Carothers, which occurred shortly after the introduction of the marijuana bill in Congress.
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Comment #3 posted by disvet13 on April 27, 2012 at 08:49:33 PT:
government control
instead of "another" underground black market, caused by government control and all the lawyers and politicians playing bureaucracy, following their agenda's, instead of the Constitution, we can all grow as much as we want, to cure and treat our diseases for free. That would be to easy an answer for all the people who know exactly what's best for me.
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Comment #2 posted by afterburner on April 27, 2012 at 08:48:23 PT
Grass Roots
Eight mayors call for end to marijuana prohibition.
By Mike Raptis, The Province April 27, 2012
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on April 27, 2012 at 07:54:53 PT
What do most Americans know of the Fed Gov?
"I think most people know in their experience that it is ludicrous."
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