by Joel Connelly
While advocates say it is high time to wipe out penalties for possession of marijuana, a lively discussion Tuesday night before pro-reform Democrats in the 43rd District showed a fork in the road on the path of reform.
“Initiative 1068 is a marijuana-legalization strategy for Washington state,” said lawyer Douglas Hiatt, an organizer in efforts to put a pro-pot initiative on Washington’s November ballot.
Hiatt, State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Wells, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and Washington State Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders shared the dais before 43rd District Democrats on a date — April 20 — that the marijuana reform lobby has adopted as its own.
“It doesn’t give you any regulation, and it doesn’t give you any taxation,” he added. A ballot-bound initiative in California would tax the weed. But Hiatt warned that federal anti-marijuana laws would preempt state taxes and standards, arguing: “The reason it doesn’t provide regulation is because it can’t.”
Kohl-Wells, D-Seattle, has sponsored legislation to remove criminal penalties for possession of pot for personal use.
But Kohl-Wells was wary of going cold turkey on pot legalization and is not backing I-1068. “I’m not coming out in opposition to this, just staying out of it,” she said.
Kohl-Wells has a point. A nationwide poll, sponsored by The Associated Press and released Tuesday, showed that just 33 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana while 55 percent remain opposed.
The poll did find a conflicted country. Sixty-one percent support for “medical marijuana,” with nearly 75 percent agreeing that marijuana can be a positive force for easing pain and suffering.
“We don’t have any states that have legalized: To go from nothing to legalization is a really big step,” said Kohl-Wells.
Read the full story: Grass Roots Efforts to Legalize Marijuana