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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Marijuana decriminalization

Pending legislation brings us closer to legal pot

Editor, The Times:

Your front-page article on marijuana legalization [“More are asking: Is it time to legalize pot?” June 16] certainly is timely. However, it failed to mention important, relevant bills pending in the Washington Legislature.

House Bill 1177, sponsored by Rep. Dave Upthegrove and 11 other representatives, would reclassify adult marijuana possession from a misdemeanor carrying mandatory jail time to a civil infraction imposing a $100 penalty that could be paid by mail. The companion Senate Bill 5615, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, was voted out of committee with a bipartisan “do pass” recommendation. Both bills are alive for the 2010 session.

The fiscal note for SB 5615 prepared by the state’s Office of Financial Management reports that its passage would save $16 million and generate $1 million in new revenue each year. Of that, $590,000 would be earmarked for underfunded treatment and prevention services.

When more and more Americans are questioning the wisdom of treating marijuana use as a crime rather than a public-health issue, we should not overlook local opportunities to enact change.

— Shankar Narayan, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington legislative director

Obama, support Kerlikowske’s war against the war on drugs

In your story on marijuana legalization, it was stated that, “The Drug Enforcement Agency also remains on record against legalization and medical marijuana, which it contends has no scientific justification.” Excuse me: This agency would say this because its employees depend on keeping the war on drugs active.

Marijuana is a natural herb that can relieve a lot of chronic pain without painful side effects. We all know the pages needed to explain the bad side effects of man-made prescription drugs. I haven’t met a prescription medication yet that has made my arthritis better –if it helps a bit it hurts my stomach, causes constipation, destroys my liver, etc. Go figure.

President Obama should strongly support Gil Kerlikowske in his push for scrapping the war on drugs as part of the economic recovery plan. Just think of the billions that would be saved in much-less-needed law enforcement.

The DEA and prescription companies wouldn’t like that. Neither would sanctimonious people that prefer prescription drugs as their drug of choice instead of an herb provided by God. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

— Phyllis Forister, Renton

Prosecuting pot activist wastes tax dollars

Washington state is facing some tough decisions on which taxes to raise or which services to cut. Yet residents should be extremely frustrated by Attorney General Rob McKenna’s push to extradite a Canadian activist to Seattle [“Canadian pot activist to plead guilty in Seattle this summer,” seattletimes.com, Local News, June 3], where residents will have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to prosecute and imprison him, which could be better spent on teachers or keeping taxes low.

Marc Emery is facing five to eight years in prison for selling novelty pot seeds to

customers in Washington state. As a resident of Canada, our government has not bothered to spend our taxpayer dollars on prosecuting Emery, yet soon his new jail cell will be furnished at the expense of Washington residents.

I encourage every frustrated taxpayer to contact Gov. Chris Gregoire and McKenna and ask them to keep Emery out of Washington. You’ve got better ways to spend your taxes.

— Dan Grice, Vancouver, B.C.

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