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Originally published December 26, 2012 at 7:00 PM | Page modified December 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM

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Marriage, pot and other gifts

Washingtonians found mixed bag of gifts under the tree in 2012.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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I don't know whether Washington was naughty or nice, but there was a lot under the tree in 2012.

Some of those gifts are still unfolding, so it'll be interesting to see how they look in the months ahead.

Washingtonians gave ourselves a new way of buying liquor. It's a gift that's good for some, but not for others.

Voters took the state out of the liquor business and turned it over to the private sector. Because state revenue had to be preserved, prices went up. Sales dropped, apparently because some buyers who live near Oregon or Idaho cross the state line for cheaper booze.

What needs watching is whether underage shoppers are finding it easy to walk off with a bottle from a grocery or pharmacy.

Washington also liberalized its laws on another mood-altering drug by making it legal for a person to possess a small amount of marijuana for recreational use.

I'm glad of that because arresting and prosecuting people for smoking a joint was a waste of resources, making criminals of people who weren't hurting themselves or anyone else.

I'm not going to light up with you, but if you want to smoke a joint at home, fine.

The new law applies only to people 21 and older. Excess use of marijuana, and use by younger people can have adverse effects on the brain.

There is no problem with the gift of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Washington did the right thing; now the federal government needs to get on board.

Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act denies federal benefits to same-sex couples by limiting the definition of marriage to a bond between a man and a woman.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the act in the coming year. The act defends only bias, and needs to go.

Not all of our gifts were controversial. The Seahawks got an excellent quarterback this year. Russell Wilson is a rookie who turned doubters into fans with his stellar performances.

He comes with a story that resonates beyond the football field. Early on, the word was that Wilson was too short and too inexperienced to be a starting National Football League quarterback.

Now the word is that he works incredibly hard and has intense focus, as well as physical gifts aside from height.

In an article Sunday, Seattle Times Sports columnist Danny O'Neil writes about Wilson's family: seati.ms/U5tuaw.

It's a story about a father and mother who nurtured not just talent, but character in their three children. They excel in sports and in academics.

Maybe their story will inspire more people to believe that obstacles can be overcome, to believe in giving more young people a chance to excel.

Toward that end, outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire slipped a late present under the tree, a budget proposal that includes an extra $1 billion for education.

Whether that goes anywhere I don't know, but it's a good message to leave for her successor and the Legislature.

Education matters and there are ways to scramble around budget obstacles.

Enjoy the year's gifts and watch out for the lumps of coal.

Jerry Large's column appears Monday and Thursday.

Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com.

Twitter: @jerrylarge.

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About Jerry Large

I try to write about the intersections of everyday life and big issues. I like to invite readers to think a little differently. The topics I choose represent the things in which I take an interest, and I try to deal with them the way most folks would, sometimes seriously, sometimes with a sense of humor. My column runs Mondays and Thursdays.
jlarge@seattletimes.com | 206-464-3346

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