Time for WA State To Decriminalize Marijuana

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  Time for WA State To Decriminalize Marijuana

Posted by CN Staff on August 20, 2009 at 16:59:15 PT
By Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Toby Nixon 
Source: Seattle Times  

Washington -- Once again, the Seattle Hempfest drew tens of thousands to parks along the waterfront this weekend. In its mission statement, the all-volunteer organization that produces the event says, "The public is better served when citizens and public officials work cooperatively in order to successfully accomplish common goals."We agree. That is why we, as a Democratic state senator and former Republican state representative, support state Senate Bill 5615. This bill would reclassify adult possession of marijuana from a crime carrying a mandatory day in jail to a civil infraction imposing a $100 penalty payable by mail.
The bill was voted out of committee with a bipartisan "do pass" recommendation and will be considered by legislators in 2010.The bill makes a lot of sense, especially in this time of severely strapped budgets. Our state Office of Financial Management reported annual savings of $16 million and $1 million in new revenue if SB 5615 passes. Of that $1 million, $590,000 would be earmarked for the Washington State Criminal Justice Treatment Account to increase support of our underfunded drug-treatment and drug-prevention services.The idea of decriminalizing marijuana is far from new. In 1970, Congress created the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. A bipartisan body with 13 members — nine appointed by President Nixon and four by Congress — the commission was tasked with conducting a yearlong, authoritative study of marijuana. When the commission issued its report, "Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding," in 1972, it surprised many by recommending decriminalization:Possession of marijuana in private for personal use would no longer be an offense; and distribution of small amounts of marijuana for no remuneration or insignificant remuneration not involving profit would no longer be an offense.Twelve states took action and decriminalized marijuana in the 1970s. Nevada decriminalized in 2001, and Massachusetts did so in 2008. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, states where marijuana possession is decriminalized represent more than 35 percent of our nation's population.These states have not seen a corresponding increase in use. Nor have the 14 states that have adopted legal protections for patients whose doctors recommend the medical use of marijuana. Nor the several cities and counties that have adopted "lowest law enforcement priority" ordinances like Seattle's Initiative 75, which made adult marijuana use the city's lowest law enforcement priority in 2003.On the flip side of the coin, escalating law enforcement against marijuana users has not achieved its intended goals. From 1991 to 2007, marijuana arrests nationwide tripled from 287,900 to a record 872,720, comprising 47 percent of all drug arrests combined. Of those, 89 percent were for possession only. Nevertheless, according to a study released earlier this year by two University of Washington faculty members:• The price of marijuana has dropped;• Its average potency has increased;• It has become more readily available; and• Use rates have often increased during times of escalating enforcement.We now have decades of proof that treating marijuana use as a crime is a failed strategy. It continues to damage the credibility of our public health officials and compromise our public safety. At a fundamental level, it has eroded our respect for the law and what it means to be charged with a criminal offense: 40 percent of Americans have tried marijuana at some point in their lives. It cannot be that 40 percent of Americans truly are criminals.We hope that the citizens of this state will work with us to help pass SB 5615, the right step for Washington to take toward a more effective, less costly and fairer approach to marijuana use.State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Seattle, left, chairs the Senate Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee. Toby Nixon was state representative for the 45th legislative district, 2002-2006, and served as vice-chair of the House Republican Caucus and ranking member of the House Committee on State Government Operations and Accountability.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Toby Nixon, Special To The TimesPublished: Thursday, August 20, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #36 posted by Hope on August 23, 2009 at 11:05:21 PT
OT Greece and pine trees
What is happening in Greece is hard to imagine. It's a dreadful thing.In one report I read about how the exploding, burning pine cones in the volatile trees were like missiles shooting the fire everywhere.Pine trees are beautiful, they are homes to birds and other wildlife, and they have food in them. They have usable energy in them. They have building supplies in them. They have many good things about them, but I dislike them because of their violent combustibility and fire propulsion propensity. Pine wood and needles burn hotter and more quickly than most wood. Pine trees can be involved, directly, in the case of fire, with loss of human and animal life. They are dangerous.I certainly don't think they should be eradicated but they are quite dangerous. Even though I hold a bit of fear of them, I love them anyway. They are beautiful, refreshing, natural, and useful. I wonder how far a flaming pine forest could send it's fire if it were surrounded by lush stands of hemp?
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Comment #35 posted by FoM on August 23, 2009 at 05:13:31 PT
I'm so sorry. I don't know why it is but people who love animals really have a hard time when they lose a pet. I only yesterday was able to look at a picture of my dog, my Rott, Kaptin. He was a pistol but we loved him very much.
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Comment #34 posted by mykeyb420 on August 22, 2009 at 23:20:46 PT
off topic
Bongo, (the father of Dennis Peron's dog Pinky ) died last night,,,so sad,,he was 14
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Comment #33 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 18:09:11 PT
Off Topic: Hard Rock Calling 09 on VH1 Now
From 9 until 11 ET what seems like a good concert will be on. Neil Young is one of those performing. Enjoy!I hope everyone has a great weekend.
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Comment #32 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 13:27:43 PT
It's harsh here too but I don't know what it is. I always wondered when I went to a Neil Young concert and everyone practically was so drunk and they just drive away when the concert is over why don't they have checkpoints set up coming out of the concert if they are serious about drunk driving. I've seen people who couldn't stand up without falling down.
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Comment #31 posted by Hope on August 21, 2009 at 12:40:27 PT
The open container penalty...
I didn't know what it was.Drunk driving in Texas has harsh penalties. 
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Comment #30 posted by Hope on August 21, 2009 at 12:11:57 PT
Hey Hempity
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Comment #29 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 10:14:01 PT
It's nice to see you and it's fine to post it here since you put the link and copyright info.
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Comment #28 posted by hempity on August 21, 2009 at 09:45:58 PT
Mexico decriminalizes small-scale drug possession
Hiya FoM and Folks!
Didn't know where else to put this, it was pretty exciting to me, hope it sticks this time.
Mexico decriminalizes small-scale drug possessionBy MARK STEVENSON (AP) – 7 hours agoMEXICO CITY — Mexico decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin on Friday — a move that prosecutors say makes sense even in the midst of the government's grueling battle against drug traffickers.Prosecutors said the new law sets clear limits that keep Mexico's corruption-prone police from extorting casual users and offers addicts free treatment to keep growing domestic drug use in check."This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty," said Bernardo Espino del Castillo of the attorney general's office.The new law sets out maximum "personal use" amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities no longer face criminal prosecution.Espino del Castillo says, in practice, small users almost never did face charges anyway. Under the previous law, the possession of any amount of drugs was punishable by stiff jail sentences, but there was leeway for addicts caught with smaller amounts."We couldn't charge somebody who was in possession of a dose of a drug, there was no way ... because the person would claim they were an addict," he said.Despite the provisions, police sometimes hauled in suspects and demanded bribes, threatening long jail sentences if people did not pay."The bad thing was that it was left up to the discretion of the detective, and it could open the door to corruption or extortion," Espino del Castillo said.Anyone caught with drug amounts under the new personal-use limit will be encouraged to seek treatment, and for those caught a third time treatment is mandatory.The maximum amount of marijuana for "personal use" under the new law is 5 grams — the equivalent of about four joints. The limit is a half gram for cocaine, the equivalent of about 4 "lines." For other drugs, the limits are 50 milligrams of heroin, 40 milligrams for methamphetamine and 0.015 milligrams for LSD.Mexico has emphasized the need to differentiate drug addicts and casual users from the violent traffickers whose turf battles have contributed to the deaths of more than 11,000 people since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006.But one expert saw potential for conflict under the new law.Javier Oliva, a political scientist at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said the new law posed "a serious contradiction" for the Calderon administration."If they decriminalize drugs it could lead the army, which has been given the task of combating this, to say 'What are we doing'?" he said.Officials said the legal changes could help the government focus more on big-time traffickers.Espino del Castillo said since Calderon took office, there have been over 15,000 police searches related to small-scale drug dealing or possession, with 95,000 people detained — but only 12 to 15 percent of whom were ever charged with anything.Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
The Truth About Hemp
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Comment #27 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 09:35:33 PT
I read last night that Texas law on open container is 6 days in jail. Here's the link. Excerpt: 6 days if open container is present.
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Comment #26 posted by tintala on August 21, 2009 at 09:15:47 PT:
FLORIDA is Terrible for cannabis possession
just watch an episode of 'THE POLICE WOMEN OF BROWARD COUNTY"... the drug czar says noone is being arrested for simple possesion, well on this cops show, these women bust mostly "black' women for simple possesion of cannabis, and it shows just like cops, how drunks are waaaay more violent than cannabis users, not to mention the drunks resist arrest, so cannabis users are obviously way more passive, and this is proven oever and over on these stupid cop shows, .. point is PEOPLE ARE STILL BEING HARASSED AND ARRESTED FOR SIMPLE cannabis possesion even though the drug czar say that doesn't happen anymore, watch the latest episode and you will see that in FLORIDA, they are ass backwards when it comes to cannabis and DO BUST simple cannabis possesion. WHAT A CRYING SHAME and a LIE!FLorida has got to be one of the lamest states for cannabis awareness.
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Comment #25 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 06:44:35 PT
OT: Michael Moore's New Movie
They just mentioned his new movie on MSNBC. His movie's are the best. Check out the trailer if you want.'Capitalism: A Love Story' the Trailer!
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Comment #24 posted by runruff on August 21, 2009 at 06:42:53 PT
May be the last year of human herbicides!
In 2010 Oregon goes legal for the third time!Me? I've wanted a revolution since Nixon!I keep a tri-cap and a brown bess in my closet!I'm used to bad food [as in battle] I was a prisoner of war for two years!!!!!
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Comment #23 posted by runruff on August 21, 2009 at 06:36:34 PT
direct link
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 06:27:41 PT
Those kind of numbers boggle my mind.
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Comment #21 posted by runruff on August 21, 2009 at 06:22:37 PT
200,000 plants in a single bust!
If you are wondering what the federal DEAth squads are up to lately......
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on August 21, 2009 at 05:11:04 PT
I believe it is an issue in many states. It's mostly in the southern states and in rural states in the middle of the country. I want to see change in a way that people everywhere in the USA can stop being afraid. Fear creates all kinds of emotions and one is anger. 
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on August 20, 2009 at 21:27:06 PT
It feels like an issue
here in Texas.I guess it's an issue where it's an issue.It bother's me if it's an issue anywhere... whether I'm there or not.
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Comment #18 posted by Canis420 on August 20, 2009 at 21:26:02 PT:
It still
makes me giggle to read it...I write environmental technical documents for a living and know how to make that sentence grammatically correct but I just did not want to :)
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on August 20, 2009 at 21:01:43 PT
Oh my gosh! You might beat me in the run on sentence department.When you're trying to say something, sometimes there just isn't enough time it seems, in the middle of a "flow" of thought we're trying to write down... or type, to nail the grammar rules as well as we might.I love the dot dot dot run on method.Thank goodness we don't have too many grammar police patroling the comments.:0)
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Comment #16 posted by Canis420 on August 20, 2009 at 21:01:13 PT:
I live in Fl now and the laws are draconian and the law doggs are rabid when it comes to cannabis. I have been working with PUFMM here trying to get petitions signed to legalize it for medical purposes but I will not stop until irts legal for all
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on August 20, 2009 at 20:44:41 PT
It has become an issue that isn't too much of an issue anymore. It isn't the end but a good middle ground. If a person lives in a harsh state it would be a good thing to have my states laws.
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Comment #14 posted by Canis420 on August 20, 2009 at 20:33:54 PT:
just to clarify
We were not drinking the was left over from a wedding I attended the night before, but I was under the influence of the cannabis as I drove off and the cop knew it as he commented on how good the pot was when he tested it to make sure it was what he thought it was...sorry for the long sentence...reading it makes me giggle
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on August 20, 2009 at 20:15:30 PT
After they decriminalized cannabis back in the 70s they went full force against drinking and driving since so many people got killed because of alcohol in car accidents. We had a judge nicknamed the hanging judge. You knew if you got caught with alcohol and he was the judge to handle your case jail was the end result. People stopped drinking and driving around here after his reputation took off.
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Comment #12 posted by Hope on August 20, 2009 at 20:08:16 PT
Growing and sharing ... like with wines... etc.
That would be nice. I've enjoyed some very nice homemade wines.Alcohol misteps are usually more serious than cannabis missteps. Where I'm from it's a double whammy. I don't know if they arrest you for an open container, but they often do for the herb.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on August 20, 2009 at 20:00:36 PT

Canis420 and Hope
That is interesting. Getting caught with alcohol or driving while under the influence is worse then a Cannabis ticket. Hope if people could grow their own cannabis like they can make wine and beer that would be good I think. Can't people share home brew in their home with friends? That sounds good too.
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Comment #10 posted by Canis420 on August 20, 2009 at 19:36:55 PT:

Ohio laws
I was caught with an open container (open bottle of wine in the cooler)and a small amount of cannabis near squires castle in the metroparks system surrounding cleveland. The cop was watchin us through bicoculars when he saw us light up. He gave me a choice to be ticketed for the cannabis or the open container. The open container carried a $500.00 fine and the cannabis $100.00. I chose the cannabis. He also just let me drive off after watchin me smoke. I thought that was a very strange encounter. In Fl where I now live I would of been thrown in jail
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on August 20, 2009 at 19:35:01 PT

This is just my opinion, of course. I don't know how everyone sees it.I see legalization as something handled, perhaps, like alcohol or tobacco or something... something that is produced and sold and people have jobs at growing, packaging, distributing, sales, research... and on and on and whatever.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on August 20, 2009 at 19:30:35 PT

Decriminalize... as I understand it 
allows them to keep arresting some people and probably reserves quite a bit of fining and seizure income for various government entities.I think. Some sort of compromise?
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on August 20, 2009 at 19:27:19 PT

From NORML's Web Site: A minor misdemeanor does not create a criminal record in Ohio. get a fine but no record or jail time. I think if you get caught with an open container it would be similar but I'm not sure. I'm not up on drinking laws. I heard a person say on the news that we need to end drug prohibition and get treatment for people. That doesn't mean an end to prohibition if you have to get treatment in my opinion. What actually does legalize mean?
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Comment #6 posted by EAH on August 20, 2009 at 19:15:40 PT:

Why not legalize?
I don't understand why cannabis should carry any penalty at all? If you are prepared to decriminalize, all the same reasons apply to legalization or more so?

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Comment #5 posted by Hope on August 20, 2009 at 18:33:45 PT

Kumquats, Mexico, and Joseph
Kumquats... love em. I've been thinking about them latel.Mexico.... I hope it works well.Joseph... Sounds like a very good trip.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on August 20, 2009 at 18:22:15 PT

I'm sure it must have been a great experience. I'm glad you got to go.
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Comment #3 posted by josephlacerenza on August 20, 2009 at 18:16:34 PT

Hemp Fest
I went to Hemp Fest on the 16th. A trip I took just so happened to work out. I went to look into the Hemp indusrty, I had been to another HF in Eugene, OR, and still expected more, but money is more important!BUT, I saw WAY more parents w/kids then I was expecting!! I got to see and hear Jack Herer speak!!!!He really did bring a sensible look at cannabis.

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Comment #2 posted by FoM on August 20, 2009 at 17:33:01 PT

Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession
August 20, 2009MEXICO CITY — Mexico has enacted a controversial law that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and heroin.The law defines "personal use" amounts for those drugs, as well as LSD and methamphetamines.It says people found with those amounts will not face criminal prosecution, but that if caught a third time they will be required to complete treatment programs, though no punishment is specified to enforce that.The law enacted Thursday says anyone caught with personal-use quantities of drugs will be urged to seek treatment for dependency. It takes effect Friday.In 2006, the U.S. government publicly criticized a similar bill. Then-President Vicente Fox sent that legislation back to Congress for reconsideration.Copyright: 2009 The Associated Press
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on August 20, 2009 at 17:32:15 PT

Equal with kumquats...... all I ask!
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