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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 24, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Decriminalization of marijuana

Selling out with a small amount

I respond to Lance Dickie’s column, “Ticket, not jail time, for small amounts of marijuana” [Feb. 20], I ask: What’s next?

Shrink all misdemeanors down to civil infractions? Decriminalize victimless offenses? Publish a fee schedule for the penalties at bus stops, preferably by schools? All because our state cannot afford police, court and jail time?

Are we selling out the wellness of our next generation to save money for the state?

Even one young life that starts out with under 40 grams of marijuana is worth more than $7.6 million.

Are the proponents of Senate Bill 5615 willing to sign a liability contract with parents in case the “small amount” of pot very quickly becomes a big amount?

— Dee Tezelli, Seattle

An absolute no-brainer

Lance Dickie is absolutely correct that small amounts of pot should be decriminalized. We need to find ways to reduce government spending; this one is an absolute no-brainer.

Unfortunately, however, our puritanical ways tend to get in the way of common sense.

On a larger scale our decades-long drug war has been an unqualified disaster, costing us a fortune.

Couldn’t we for once take one small step in the right direction and pass this legislation? We would not only save money; we would also stop wasting law-enforcement officers’ time and effort that could be devoted to more important matters.

— Terry Mercier, Woodinville

Increasing the illegal-drug market

In Lance Dickie’s column, State Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, chair of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee, makes the important point that decriminalization ” could lull citizens into harm’s way with zero-tolerance federal authorities, such as the Coast Guard or border agents.”

Federal interdiction of a popular drug people are allowed to use is bad public policy. During the Prohibition, federal law sent bootleggers to prison, but let drinkers drink. Interdiction drove up the profit of the illegal market, thus attracting more violence and disrespect for the law.

The Prohibition caused so much societal damage we ended it in 1933 and have never looked back.

The only solution is to get the feds out and leave it to the states.

— John Chase, Palm Harbor, Fla.

Lulling us down the yellow-brick road

With a record $8 billion budget shortfall, State Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, is refusing to allow a hearing on decriminalization of marijuana, which could result in saving approximately $7.6 million because it might lull citizens into harm’s way.

He would rather cut social services, education and other benefits because that, of course, doesn’t put our citizens into harm’s way? By the way, we need to build a new correction facility in King County, so we have someplace to put these joint-smoking, law breakers.

Rep. Hurst brings to mind the Wizard of Oz lament: “If I only had a brain!”

— Deanne Gilbert, Kirkland

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