Legalize marijuana? Like this?
Gene Johnson’s Wednesday’s piece, “Spokesman for pot group fired at own news conference,” must have been confusing to many readers. It was about Initiative 502, on the November ballot, which would legalize, license and tax marijuana, and a group, the Safe Access Alliance, that’s pro-marijuana but against the initiative, and whose press conference was crashed by angry people from No on 502, who are also pro-marijuana and against the initiative.
The first reaction from many readers is that these folks were all stoned, but I don’t think they were. This is the sort of thing zealous people do when they are sober. They take themselves seriously. They fight their own side. They forget their goal.
If their goal is legal marijuana, how are they going to get it? What’s the political path? You pass 502—and then what? Or you reject 502, and then what? What are you trying to do: write the permanent law of cannabis on the first draft? Or “start a conversation with” (i.e., openly defy) the federal government to create political momentum nationally? Given that the right answer is the second, doesn’t passing 502 make more sense than blocking it?
One of the public commenters on this story says it’s a fight between the medical-marijuana people and the people who want to create an industry for the state to tax. Maybe so. Washington taxes liquor and cigarettes more heavily than most other states, partly because we don’t have a state income tax. And if you are in favor of legalization, how do you propose to get it in the state of Washington without state regulations and a heavy tax?
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics