Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jun 2009
Source: Seattle Times (WA)
Copyright: 2009 The Seattle Times Company
Author: Shankar Narayan


Editor, The Times:

Your front-page article on marijuana legalization ["More are asking:
Is it time to legalize pot?" June 16] certainly is timely. However, it
failed to mention important, relevant bills pending in the Washington

House Bill 1177, sponsored by Rep. Dave Upthegrove and 11 other
representatives, would reclassify adult marijuana possession from a
misdemeanor carrying mandatory jail time to a civil infraction
imposing a $100 penalty that could be paid by mail. The companion
Senate Bill 5615, sponsored by Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, was voted out
of committee with a bipartisan "do pass" recommendation. Both bills
are alive for the 2010 session.

The fiscal note for SB 5615 prepared by the state's Office of
Financial Management reports that its passage would save $16 million
and generate $1 million in new revenue each year. Of that, $590,000
would be earmarked for underfunded treatment and prevention services.

When more and more Americans are questioning the wisdom of treating
marijuana use as a crime rather than a public-health issue, we should
not overlook local opportunities to enact change.

Shankar Narayan, American Civil Liberties Union of Washington

legislative director 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake