Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

The Seattle Times Endorses November Marijuana Legalization Initiative

If only newspaper editorials were still relevant


Take note, ineffective, hand-wringing California editorial boards. This is how it's done:

"Know your audience" comes to mind

The question for voters is not whether marijuana is good. It is whether prohibition is good. It is whether the people who use marijuana shall be subject to arrest, and whether the people who supply them shall be sent to prison. The question is whether the war on marijuana is worth what it costs.

Initiative 502 says no.

If marijuana killed people, or if smoking it made people commit violence and mayhem, prohibition might be worth all its bad effects. But marijuana does not kill people; there is no lethal dose. Marijuana befuddles the mind and stimulates the appetite, but it does not make people commit arson and brigandage.

Some people abuse it, just as with alcohol, but cannabis is less of a social problem than liquor, wine and beer. And society manages those as legal, commercial products.

When pot legalization hit the ballot in 2010 in California, allegedly liberal newspaper editorial boards ran screaming into their local police chiefs' offices and hid under the desks until those bad, bad marijuana junkies went away. Statism trumped civil liberties at California's news outlets (Cities would be able to set their own guidelines? What the hell is this – Somalia?). None of the major dailies endorsed it.

Bonus points to The Seattle Times for also directly addressing the panicked "What about the children?" fearmongering (and also for having an awesome graphic of George Washington toking):

Parents may ask whether I-502 will make marijuana more available to their teenage children. The answer is to compare marijuana with beer. For teenagers, both are illegal — and available. But which is more easily available, the one that is banned or the one that is regulated? For more than 40 years, the one more easily available to teenagers has been the one that is banned.

Marijuana prohibition does not work. The better policy is to legalize it, license it, regulate it and tax it.

The Times editorial board supports Initiative 502 as a big step in that direction.

Unfortunately, The News Tribune in Tacoma has bought into the fears of juvenile use and rejected the initiative solely for that reason. However, the Olympian, serving the state's capital city, has also endorsed the initiative, saying, "[I]t's naive to think juveniles don't already have complete and unfettered access."

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  1. The question for voters is not whether marijuana is good. It is whether prohibition is good.

    A lot of people, both pro and anti-legalization, fail to see that this really is the essential question. It really shouldn’t matter whether pot is better for you than alcohol, or that it could “ruin your life”. Even putting aside the principle that people should be allowed to ingest anything they freely choose to, as a purely utilitarian question, it seems pretty clear that prohibition does more harm than good, particularly in the case of pot.

    1. Exactly. Convicted nonviolent drug users get the privilege of being forced to join violent prison gangs so they have protection when they drop the soap in the pen. Then when they get out, if they don’t continue down the life of crime and/or addiction, they will have difficulty getting a legitimate job with the conviction on their record, even if they’ve turned their life around. In the long term, this merely causes more poverty, homelessness, crime and relapse in the long run.

      I think this has had a particularly strong effect on minorities from poor families, whose communities are more heavily policed and are thus more likely to be caught with drugs and convicted than white suburban teenagers with rich parents.

  2. Get optimistic all you want, even if it passes (which it won’t), the Feds are going to just fill the vacuum created when/if local/state LE stops prosecuting.

    1. And state and local LE won’t stop enforcing. They’ll be all-too-happy to join a federal “Joint Task Force” if it gives them an opportunity to kick a door or two in while wearing their black Ninja gear and sporting their assault rifles.
      The only way a MJ legalization referendum will be effective is if it makes it a felony for a state LE agent to participate on a federal MJ investigation in any way.

      1. They wouldn’t have to make it a felony, just make it where they didn’t get paid or accrue benefits while working for the Feds.

        I mean they wouldn’t even need a fucking law for that, they could do it with comptroller adjustments.

        But I bet they won’t!

      2. (cue dunphy praising the all seeing Seattle way of life in 3….2….)

          1. Higher standard. Histronics. Bigoratti.

    2. It’ll take time, but the pressure will build in Washington to rollback as more and more states go the way of WA (I believe it will pass).

      There’s no other realistic way to expect this policy change to occur, beyond ground up, one state at a time.

      1. Which is exactly why the feds will crack down on WA (and CO if they pass too) with great anger and furious vengeance if it passes.

        To show other states the futility of doing it.

        1. Care to wager on that? I am not nearly so pessimistic.

          1. Sure, I’ll bet you a pound of legally purchased BC Blue or whatever you kids call it now.

            1. You need to specify the terms better but you should definitely make this bet, WG.

              DrugWar-Industrial Complex has salary-paying jobs on the line. There’s no way they’re going to let a little thing like a duly-constituted electoral majority get in their way.

              They are mean people and I hate them.

          2. I tend to agree. People discount the holy hell that the local Congressmen and Senators will raise if there’s an all out assault.

            Although I would welcome an all out assault. I believe it would hasten the swing of public opinion.

        2. Drug policy has nothing to do with drugs.

          It’s a loyalty test.

          Thought crime.

          It’s about setting aside your own sense of morality, of right and wrong, and replacing it with that of the state.

          Drug use identifies for punishment those who do not think as the state says that they should.

          1. Why do you even bother caring (sarcasmic) if you think that everything is so predetermined and inevitable?

            1. What makes you think I care?

              1. Caring is for women. And gays.

                But ironically not for gay women.

              2. Well, the fact that you spend so much time commenting on things. If you don’t, then good for you. I really have no problem with such a cynical outlook. You’ll probably be right more often than not. I can see that we are very unlikely to become libertarian land anytime soon, but I try to be a bit optimistic about some things around the edges.

                1. the fact that you spend so much time commenting on things

                  That’s because I’m bored out of my fucking mind since my feckless managers never give me anything to do.

                  I try to be a bit optimistic about some things around the edges

                  Then be ready to be let down.

        3. The federal government ASSUMES that marijuana should be illegal. But is this assumption valid?

          When alcohol was illegal we had bootleggers on our streets selling booze to kids. Legalizing alcohol drove bootleggers off our streets, and children can’t buy alcohol from stores. Legalization made our children SAFER.

          Now that marijuana is illegal we have drug dealers on our streets selling pot to kids. Legalizing marijuana will drive drug dealers off our streets, and children won’t be able to buy marijuana from stores. Legalization will make our children SAFER.

          End the Needless Arrests – Legalize Marijuana Like Wine!

          1. End the Needless Arrests – Legalize Marijuana Like Wine!

            Why are the NORMLites always calling for the Regulatory State to capture more of the market?

            I would rather you advocate for straight legalization.

            1. Why are the NORMLites always calling for the Regulatory State to capture more of the market?

              Baby steps. Make it like beer and eventually it will be legal to home-grow.

              Or so I guess.

            2. I can send my hypothetical 8-year-old brother to the supermarket with $2.00 and ask him to buy four tomatoes.

              I would not advocate that he also be able to get me two ounces of Bubba Kush.

              Do you see what I’m getting at?

    3. I’m a bit more optimistic. I’m sure the Feds will do something, but no way they will fill the roles of all of the local and state police that were previously enforcing. It won’t be complete legalization until the Feds change, but it will be better. Look at CA with medical pot. It’s really just back door legalization. And while the Feds do fuck with people a lot, there are still thousands of people growing legally under CA law who are generally unmolested.

      Why bother caring about anything if you are going to be so negative?

      1. Likely the feds will ignore users and people who grow for personal consumption.
        Large scale operations and distributor are where their attention will be, mainly because of the loot.

  3. Brigandage, eh? What about hooliganism and assorted acts of whatnot?

  4. Taxpayers are forced to pay $40 Billion a year for a marijuana prohibition that causes 10,000 brutal murders 800,000 needless arrests every year but which doesn’t even stop CHILDREN getting marijuana.

    Clearly this policy causes FAR more harm than good!! Drug Dealers Don’t Card, Supermarkets Do.

  5. state and local LE won’t stop enforcing. They’ll be all-too-happy to join a federal “Joint Task Force” if it gives them an opportunity to kick a door or two in while wearing their black Ninja gear and sporting their assault rifles.

    No kidding. And the feds have figured out that the surest way to keep their shiteating lapdogs down at the local cop shop (and the city council) in line is to bribe them with a cut of the asset forfeiture loot.

  6. You would think that the DNC would want a MJ legalization ballot initiative in every state. It would certainly boost turnout of voters more likely to vote for BO. Not the BO would give a shit about why the voted.

  7. It really shouldn’t matter whether pot is better for you than alcohol, or that it could “ruin your life”.

    I like asking people whether THEIR children or grandchildren (as opposed to some random filthy peasant’s snot-nosed brats) would be better off in jail than sitting on the couch smoking a fattie and watching Beverly Hillbillies reruns. The look you get is probably a lot like the look on the cow’s face right before the bolt hits.

    Good fun.

    1. I would prefer my children and grandchildren do it outside, I don’t allow smoking inside the house; I have textured ceilings and they are a bitch to clean.

      1. That popcorn-style stucco is SOOOOOO 1980s….

        1. Nah dude, it’s actually 70’s vintage.

  8. Care to wager on that? I am not nearly so pessimistic.

    Sorry, but I have observed at close hand the federales’ response to “medical” marijuana. Smash-and-grab on a state wide scale, timed specifically to show the puny state legislators what’s what.

    Also, see the federal prosecutors’ pre-trial motions stating in no uncertain terms, “Your fucking state laws don’t mean shit.”

    1. Yes, but eventually such tactics will cause outrage.

      And by “eventually” I mean, “if and when it happens under a Republican Administration.”

  9. there is no lethal dose

    Not true, but its so high, its practically nonexistent.

    1. Yeah, we figured this out last week. The amount you’d have to smoke to hit the LD50 makes it a practical impossibility.

  10. The argument that legalization sends the wrong “message” to the kids amuses me. The first time I tried it (waaaaay back in 1973), the message I learned was that adults are hypocrites and liars. Parents, teach your kids that not everything that’s legal is neccessarily a good thing or a good thing if taken to excess. Stop expecting the state to treat other adults like children because you don’t know how to rais your kids.

  11. The Seattle Times endorses the initiative, but the Seattle Hempfest organization doesn’t. The executive director of the Seattle Hempfest is against the initiative.

    And didn’t a few editorials mainly reject Prop 19 in California because the law was poorly written, which would create more headaches down the line?

  12. My issue with the idea of legalization, as it currently stands, is on the “regulate and tax it” part of the whole thing. Do we honestly believe that a product, which already has a successful, albeit illegal, distribution model will willingly submit to being taxed and regulated? And are we to believe that the health police are going to be okay with the idea of sucking some smoke into our lungs so long as it’s the kind they morally agree with? The health police will come at marijuana the same way they did cigarettes; maybe not at first, but eventually. And, of course, the product will be regulated, just as alcohol was. And the people accustomed to getting “the good stuff” will be asked to settle for a milder product that fits whatever labyrinthine maze of government regulations that will be imposed. Which means that most of the people currently smoking marijuana, and most of the people currently producing it, will go back to their old consumption and distribution. The negligible tax revenues raised from the legitimate sale of the product will hardly make a dent in the cost of the continuing war against the Old Guard and the enforcement of the New Regime. We’ll have just added another layer of government to compound the existing problem.

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