Raids emphasize need for coherent marijuana regulation
Recent raids of medical-marijuana dispensaries underscore the mess of regulations and rules. It is time to legalize marijuana, tax it, clarify the rules and provide a reasonable regulatory scheme.
RECENT federal raids of medical-marijuana dispensaries in the Puget Sound region highlight in bold relief our disjointed and out-of-touch federal and state rules on marijuana.
Few will argue that the U.S. government, which bans marijuana entirely, is off base for intervening in drug sales to a gang in Chicago, as one affidavit contends.
Obviously, law-enforcement officers have a duty to try to intervene in marijuana interstate importation and distribution. Medical-marijuana dispensaries have a purpose and, done right, should be legal. Federal law-enforcement authorities raided dispensaries they believe are acting as fronts for a variety pack of other illegal activities.
The raids underscore the mess of regulations and rules. It is time to legalize marijuana, tax it, clarify the rules and provide a reasonable regulatory scheme.
If sensible regulations were in place, medical-marijuana dispensaries would not be importing and exporting marijuana across state lines or allowing felons to sell marijuana or illegal narcotics.
There are many lines to draw and numerous safety issues to consider. Marijuana should not be legal for those under age 21. It should be legal for people who are not well and need marijuana to control their pain and suffering and for adults.
U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan, who must enforce draconian federal law on marijuana, said: "The truly sick people, doctors, caregivers, we're not going to prosecute. They don't have to worry about our enforcement action. But people exploiting (medical marijuana) laws just to make a lot of money selling drugs, they do have a reason to worry."
Fine, go after alleged criminals abusing the privilege of a convoluted state law that allows certain kinds of medical-marijuana dispensaries.
Washington voters favor medical-marijuana use. They will likely have a chance to decide if they want to go further and legalize marijuana for adults, either if a new initiative gathers sufficient signatures and is passed by the Legislature, or by voters if the measure comes to them.
What is indisputable is the current system does not work. Millions of dollars and untold hours of law-enforcement time are wasted prosecuting bit players. Washington needs a more coherent and modern system.
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