Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Yakima Herald: Legalize pot? We don't need to go there.

In  their editorial, "Legalize pot? We don't need to go there", the Yakima Herald says:

The public safety side, including Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, opposes the measure for fear of increased drug use, compromised traffic safety and involvement by organized crime. Gov. Chris Gregoire is against it, as are gubernatorial candidates Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee, with all noting that marijuana-related activities would remain a federal crime.

. . . Critics from both sides believe that in tight budget times, legislators will be tempted to "sweep" dedicated public-health funds into the general fund, and recent history supports that view.

We stand on the public-safety side, and proponents don’t offer a rejoinder about federal illegality except to say that if enough states take steps to legalize it, the federal government eventually will come around. That leap of faith attempts to cover too much of the middle ground for our tastes. We would also like to see the Legislature clarify provisions of Washington’s hazy medical marijuana laws, approved by voter initiative in 1998, before we try to take any steps toward legalization.

We also have a hard time with the argument that by regulating and taxing pot, the drug cartels will lose their economic incentive and move on somewhere else. The crop is too lucrative for cartels to simply walk away from their large, untaxed illegal grows in Eastern Washington if marijuana is legalized.

There will be enforcement costs associated with the measure, as well as to police use by people under 21 and those who may toke and drive. We are also swayed by arguments that making an intoxicating substance more available increases the prospects for drug abuse and its resulting health and law-enforcement problems.

Initiative 502 simply takes us a bit too far; the safest ground lies with a "no" vote.

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