Legalizing Cannabis: High Time for a Discussion
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Legalizing Cannabis: High Time for a Discussion
Posted by CN Staff on February 25, 2011 at 18:01:31 PT
By Ryan Blethen, Times Editorial Columnist
Source: Seattle Times
Seattle, WA -- It is rare we publish an editorial on a hot topic and receive near universal praise. But that is what happened last week when we came out in support of Washington state legalizing cannabis.The fact that a lot of people support the drug being legal is not surprising. Most people I know have long supported legalization of marijuana. Knowing people who support it and public opinion about a newspaper supporting it are different things.
When people take the time to e-mail or call me about an editorial, it is usually because they do not agree with the editorial page. This editorial was different. The compliments rolled in, the discussion in the comments section of the editorial is nearing 600 and is interesting and thoughtful  which is not always the case  and so far the editorial has been recommended by about 3,000 people on Facebook.Those numbers are nice to see, but only a minor part of the story. What the editorial has shown is that a broad cross-section of Washingtonians supports legalizing cannabis, or at least are ready to discuss the issue seriously.Legalizing would put Washington out in front. We would be the first state to make the drug legal and regulate it. This would put us at odds with federal law  something we considered. Through our internal discussions this opposition to federal law became a point in favor of endorsing legalization. We believe it is the right thing to do, so why not lead the county?The possibility of a positive response is not why we voiced our support for Seattle Democratic Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's bill to legalize cannabis. Any decent editorial page is going to take unpopular stands or endorse politicians or issues that rile readership. I still hear from readers fuming about The Seattle Times' endorsement of George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. (I was not here then but am certain the editorial board was not smoking anything.)How did we get to the point of supporting the legalization of a drug? Like any big decision or change of opinion, it was a process. This process started more than a year ago when I brought the issue up with the publisher. He was intrigued, but clearly not comfortable with the idea.My argument was that the war against marijuana was a loser. It is a drain on law-enforcement resources and precious government funds. I also pointed out that by legalizing cannabis it cuts off a major source of funds for cartels and gangs.From there we set about researching the topic. Some on the editorial board had worries about it being a gateway drug and about the effects on children. My counter was that if a teenager really wants pot, he or she is going to find a way to get it regardless of its legality. Just like alcohol. By regulating cannabis, it removes those under 18 from the presence of drug dealers, who, because it is their business, often have other kinds of drugs they can push on their young customers.Another factor that played heavily in the decision is the outsize punishments for relatively small amounts of marijuana.Enter Dickerson's bill. It dovetailed nicely with our yearlong internal examination of the issue. The publisher was comfortable with the decision so I gave editorial writer Bruce Ramsey the green light.As far as I can tell, The Times is one of the few metropolitan newspapers to push for legal cannabis. That does not mean we are alone. Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper has a piece below about regulating illicit drugs. Stamper is not a lone voice in law enforcement believing that the dollars spent in the futile effort to eradicate drugs would be better used for treatment.It is high time this country had a sober discussion about marijuana. Because what we are doing now is not working. Washington state's Legislature could lead the discussion by passing Dickerson's bill.Ryan Blethen's column appears on editorial pages of The Times. Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Ryan Blethen, Times Editorial ColumnistPublished: February 25, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on March 05, 2011 at 06:08:05 PT
I have 2 articles posted and boy does it make the angry people who don't appreciate this administration look silly once again.
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Comment #16 posted by Hope on March 04, 2011 at 21:45:31 PT
Kerlikowske's meeting with the Editorial Board
of the Seattle Times was supposed to be today.I wonder what was said at that meeting.
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Comment #15 posted by b4daylight on February 27, 2011 at 17:09:29 PT
I live in a land of hypocrites. They drink, use nicotine, drive autos, and burden me with children. Yet when I want to take a toke in my house. Suddenly that is wrong and I should be fined. 
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Comment #14 posted by afterburner on February 27, 2011 at 12:41:27 PT
Has Anone Else Seen This?
DEA to legalize marijuana chemical for Big Pharma but keep it a crime for everyone else.
Thursday, February 24, 2011.
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger.
Editor of (See all articles...) source
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on February 27, 2011 at 09:54:34 PT
The ONDCP reacted immediately to this editorial., the Drug Warrior, is going up there to meet personally with the editorial board on Friday.
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Comment #12 posted by John Tyler on February 26, 2011 at 22:41:33 PT
good news
That would be absolutely wonderful.
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Comment #11 posted by Hope on February 26, 2011 at 19:21:37 PT
Comment 10 Storm Crow
I enjoyed it!Good work.Over the years, here in this meeting of minds that is C-News,  from time to time it's been suggested that we ought to try to put into words what we thought it would be like when the "War" was finally over. Mostly we were, and probably still are, pretty much speechless. I know I still am. It will be better. I am sure of that.No killings. No imprisoning. No humiliating, mistreating, and belittling others because they enjoy cannabis. No tickets. No handcuffing. No spying, snitching, ratting, and tattling. No turning people against their own friends and family members over consumption of a plant. No dynamic entries into people's homes over the cannabis plant. No more lies in the name of the War. No peeing or giving up blood, nails, hair, saliva, sweat, tears and whatever they might think of next, just to get a chance to work.Less hatred and fear.It will be better.
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Comment #10 posted by Storm Crow on February 26, 2011 at 10:08:43 PT
Paul, you might enjoy this, 
Here's a sample of what some folks think will happen!- think I was rushing it a bit with my predictions- I just couldn't resist the 20/20 pun! But things ARE finally moving faster (hurrah!), so, hopefully, with a little luck, I'll be proved right! I hope you enjoy the "sci fi"!
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 26, 2011 at 07:07:09 PT
You are so funny!
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Comment #8 posted by runruff on February 26, 2011 at 07:05:46 PT
I invented the hobo's cocktail; half cranberry half Ripple, I call it "Cripple"!
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on February 26, 2011 at 06:22:01 PT
Tim and Everyone
And here's a song to enjoy! The times they are a changin'Ripple
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Comment #6 posted by Tim on February 26, 2011 at 05:56:04 PT:
Re: Change is in the wind.
It's "Flower Power". :-)
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Comment #5 posted by Paul Pot on February 26, 2011 at 05:28:13 PT:
Change is in the wind.
The times they are a changing
at last.
Who would have thought 20 years ago it would happen and take so much hard work and in the end so many lives. 
It would be truly awesome if Washington legalises. It will make the next Presidential elections even more exciting. 
Everybody in every state, enrol to vote and sign every pot petition that comes along and then vote. Remember these days cause they are changing fast. You are watching history in the making and soon prohibition will be over and its going to be hard to remember what it was like and harder still to explain to future generations the fear we felt.
I wonder has anyone written the science fiction story of what the world will be like after prohibition ends. I see a flowering of the human race myself. Where the drug funded wars finally end and everyone gets to go home and make a garden and look after their family.
Here's to all the marijuana activists who got us this far and to all those who've seen the light and are joining in.
Thank you all.
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Comment #4 posted by Tim on February 26, 2011 at 03:00:00 PT:
Can't wait to see it! I'm high with a grin on my face and I haven't had anything but coffee today!
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Comment #3 posted by The GCW on February 25, 2011 at 21:45:34 PT
Is it happening?
It feels like it is happening.
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on February 25, 2011 at 21:34:24 PT
Go Washington
US WA: PUB LTE: Washington Could Be The First
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on February 25, 2011 at 18:27:34 PT
Marijuana-Legalization Bill Deserves a Hearing
The Seattle Times editorial board urges House Speaker Frank Chopp to allow a hearing on House Bill 1550, state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's bill to legalize marijuana and sell it through the Washington state liquor stores.February 24, 2011Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's bill to legalize marijuana, tax it and sell it to adults through the state liquor stores  House Bill 1550  deserves a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee. This is the money committee, and Dickerson's bill could create a revenue stream for the state of at least $300 million a year.The money is not the main reason we favor the bill. As we explained on this page last Sunday, our main reason is that we believe the costs of prohibition in police, courts, jails, gang warfare, civil liberties and blighted lives are too high, especially for a product that lends itself so well to be handled like alcohol.That is an argument valid anytime. Right now there is a crisis in state spending and revenue, which makes a $300 million river of cash of immediate interest.HB 1550 is a bold bill. It will be safer for legislators to pass Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles' bill, Senate Bill 5073, to provide arrest protection for medical cannabis patients, and let the larger issue slide. Kohl-Welles' bill is a good one, and we support it. But there still ought to be room for a hearing on the big one, HB 1550.At this point in the session, a Ways and Means hearing requires the permission of Speaker Frank Chopp. We urge him to approve a hearing. The response we have had to our editorial convinces us that public interest in this question is huge.Whether the Legislature is ready to pass a bill this bold is doubtful, but we remind legislators that an even bolder one is coming. It is Initiative 1135, and it is already filed. It would remove all state penalties for marijuana at age 18.Its proponents, Philip Dawdy, Douglas Hiatt and other members of Sensible Washington, almost placed a similar measure on the ballot last year, falling short by a few tens of thousands of signatures. This year, it is likely they will get the signatures, especially if the Legislature turns its back on this issue.Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyURL:
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