Seattle Times Editorial Board: “Legalize it!”
Normally, Friday afternoon is when news is leaked that people hope to bury. That is unlikely to happen with the Seattle Times editorial board’s endorsement of HB 1550, the bill to legalize marijuana in Washington State, sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson.
The board is not even swayed by the fact that marijuana would still be illegal under federal law. In their view, this is a time when the state of Washington can get there faster than the federal government, and the fight to fix failed policy may as well begin here. Hello, Ecotopia.
Argues the Times:
There has been:
• A cost to the people arrested and stigmatized as criminals, particularly to students who lose university scholarships because of a single conviction;
• A cost in wasted police time, wasted court time and wasted public resources in the building of jails and prisons;
• A cost in disrespect for the law and, in some U.S. cities, the corruption of police departments;
• A cost in lost civil liberties and lost privacy by such measures as the tapping of private telephones and invasion of private homes;
• A cost in the encouragement of criminal lifestyle among youth, and the consequent rise in theft, assault, intimidation, injury and murder, including multinational criminal gangs; and
• A cost in tax revenues lost by federal, state and local governments — revenues that for this state might be on the order of $300 million a year.
For your reference, here is HB 1550′s specific intent:
Sec. 1. (1) The legislature finds that:
(a) The regulation and taxation of cannabis will generate revenue for health care programs, including effective drug education programs. Producing, selling, and shipping cannabis within Washington will also help create jobs in the agricultural sector;
(b) Regulating and selling cannabis will conserve state resources during the current period of fiscal constraint and create significant state revenue for health care and substance abuse treatment and prevention. Each year millions of dollars are wasted on prosecution of cannabis-related offenses. Regulation of cannabis will eliminate these expenses in addition to generating revenue; and
(c) The state has an effective system for the regulation and taxation of alcohol.
(2) Therefore, the legislature intends to promote commerce and competition within Washington by eliminating penalties for the possession and consumption of cannabis, regulating and taxing the sale of cannabis by state government, and licensing cannabis growers.