Pot Heads Toward Legalization

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  Pot Heads Toward Legalization

Posted by CN Staff on September 14, 2010 at 19:32:57 PT
By Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times Editorial Columnist 
Source: Seattle Times  

Seattle, WA -- Marijuana is moving toward legalization. Fourteen states now allow it as medicine, which has changed people's view of it. The image of a user is no longer Cheech and Chong, but grandma."The states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana will be the first to legalize marijuana more broadly," predicts cannabis activist Ethan Nadelman of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Washington will be one of the first states. But how to do it? Legalizers don't agree.Earlier this year the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington refused to support Initiative 1068. The ACLU supports legalization, but it wants regulations, and I-1068 didn't have any. It would have removed criminal penalties only. The ACLU's opposition curdled the initiative's fundraising, and it didn't make the ballot.Last Sunday, the ACLU held a forum on legalization. Nadelman and others were here from Washington, D.C. Local organizers of I-1068 were not invited.Their disagreement is not whether cannabis would be regulated. Of course it would be regulated. Like beer and wine, there would be rules about how it could be marketed, who could sell it and who could buy it. And it would be taxed — heavily.Why leave the regs and taxes out of the ballot measure? Partly because initiatives are for simple questions. Details belong in the Legislature. The I-1068 folks, who call themselves Sensible Washington, had an additional reason.Marijuana is illegal under federal law. If a state sets up a law permitting it, the feds can ask a federal court to throw that law out. The Obama administration could ask a court to throw out Washington's law permitting cannabis as medicine. It has chosen not to, but it could do it.If Washington voters passed a law permitting cannabis as a consumer product, the feds would be inclined to attack it. And if that law also included repeal of criminal penalties, both could fall and the criminal penalties return.And that, says Seattle attorney Douglas Hiatt, the head of Sensible Washington, is the reason to do repeal separately. Repeal, by itself, creates nothing to attack. It simply erases. The feds could still attack any regulations, but the repeal would stand.Hiatt, who was a history major, discovered that's how the legalizers of alcohol did it 78 years ago. In November 1932, the people approved Initiative 61, which repealed all the state laws against alcohol. The rules and regulations came later, from the Legislature."It was a two-step process," Hiatt says. "And it was brilliant. It remains the only tried and true way to repeal prohibition."Alison Holcomb, the ACLU's drug-policy director here, argues that legalization challenges the federal government no matter how it is done. The defensible position, she says, is "to set up a well-regulated system."Hoclomb says "a broad coalition" plans to run a legalize-and-regulate cannabis initiative here in 2012.Meanwhile, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, plans to introduce a bill in January that would protect medical users from arrest, which current law does not. Kohl-Welles wants full legalization, but she told Sunday's forum, "We have to address what's possible."Hiatt thinks legalization is possible now, by popular initiative. He's planning to run I-1068 again, in 2011."We're not changing anything in the substance of the initiative," he says.Bruce Ramsey's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. Note: Seattle Times editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey examines a strategic disagreement among activists who would legalize marijuana in the state of Washington.Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author:  Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times Editorial ColumnistPublished: September 14, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #7 posted by rancher on September 17, 2010 at 03:50:04 PT:

working together is the only way to suceed
I hope the I 1068 activists and the ACLU can figure out how to work together. It is hard to imagine a marijuana legalization initiative suceeding without the support of the ACLU. The ACLU have been very active and helpful in fighting marijuana prohibition and it isn't about the money.
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Comment #6 posted by museman on September 15, 2010 at 11:49:43 PT

runruff OT:
Barter Faire this weekend. Takilma.ARC (yes, Abin and I resurrected it) is playing Sunday as the wakeup band ;)Soon to be released, new live recordings of ARC, a band not heard in over 26 years.Be there, or be there...
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Comment #5 posted by museman on September 15, 2010 at 11:45:48 PT

American Club (for) Lawyers (who are) Useless(except for the getting lots of money for themselves part)
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on September 15, 2010 at 11:00:59 PT

Good stuff, thanx!
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Comment #3 posted by Sam Adams on September 15, 2010 at 09:16:58 PT

I wonder if the ACLU just "disagrees" with anyone who doesn't throw them a little money as part of the referendum project.
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Comment #2 posted by museman on September 15, 2010 at 09:16:40 PT

Allow me to elaborate;"It becomes obvious when they (the fed) push harmful or deadly substances..."Like;Fossil Fuels.Toxic chemicals for fertilization, herbicides and insecticides - which, along with their various 'sterilization' processes, create cancerous food, advertised with much hoopla and 'expert' testimony as to it's 'safeness,' and 'healthiness' (experts supplied by the sponsoring corporation).Nuclear power.A power grid that could have been a very efficient, non-destructive source of relatively free energy for the entire planet, but was thrown over for Thomas Edison's supply-and-demand system of power brokers. (see Tesla)An 'academic system' that teaches false morality and forced and implied allegiance to a failed state using every low-brow, underhanded trick in the book of 'pay no attention to the man behind the curtain' and 'The Emporers New Clothes.' Schools that focus on being complacent, beer-drinking TV sitters who mindlessly fulfill their daily duties to provide for the rich, so they can achieve the weekend. Schools that teach not how to be good human beings, or how to further the REAL progress of the human race, instead exalt and revere the perpetuity of the medieval Status Quo. Pharmaceutical 'drugs' derived from nature, (but just try and use nature without their consent) that have wrecked countless lives with their toxicity and out-of-balance chemical synthesis that the human body was not designed to take.And last but not least, and entire government (certainly not 'of the people' like they like to claim) complete with armed thugs to force everyone into compliance.-to scratch the surface of the filth and slime called The Federal Government.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on September 15, 2010 at 02:28:49 PT

The winner now is soon to be last....
...and they don't like it!As hard as the corporations and the corporate controlled feds are trying to block hemp/cannabis regulation, their methods and desperation are much deeper than they want to act like they are!On the surface it is all about public protection but that has worn thin until everything pertaining to the war on drugs has become transparent. It is an all out struggle with the gov and the corporations trying to maintain the mega profits they have illicitly earned and the freedoms and rights of the individual.It becomes obvious when they push harmful or deadly substances while the feds have a list of "federally controlled substances" many helpful and most not deadly but in the CSA just the same.I see where these arcane laws supported by lies, wives tails and superstitions, have lost their power to convince people of their necessity. We are finding facts and truth on the new super info highway, the feds once said ,"my way or the highway" they may be reflecting on that a little bit by now?
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