Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
Seattle Times' debate over the legalization of marijuana use
An incorrect assertion
Kevin Sabet is incorrect in asserting that legalizing marijuana in Washington could lead Congress to withhold University of Washington research funds [“Chat reflects vigorous debate over legalizing pot,” NWTuesday, Aug. 21].
Congress may require states accepting federal dollars to take certain actions, such as adopt a 21-year-old drinking age in return for highway grants. These conditions must relate to the appropriation’s purpose. A uniform drinking age relates to safety on federally funded highways.
There is no relationship between the billion or so dollars in federal grants, contracts that UW receives each year and marijuana prohibition, except possibly funding for drug-abuse research.
Conditions for accepting federal funds also must be unambiguous, and new legislation would be needed to tie them to prohibition. Spending conditions cannot be unduly coercive on states as the court held in allowing states to decline expanding its Medicaid programs as the Affordable Care Act mandated. States cannot afford to refuse Medicaid money.
Tying grants for highways and universities to marijuana prohibition likewise would be coercive. States could lose 5 percent of highway funding by not conforming to the national drinking age. Few states, if any, can reject federal funding for roads or schools.
— Stewart Jay, Seattle