Edmonds resident and travel guru Rick Steves is wrapping up a statewide lecture tour to promote his (and others') longstanding argument for why Washington State should decriminalize marijuana. In case you live in a dense, dense fog, the issue is on the ballot next month as I-502, which, if approved, would eliminate criminal penalties for producing, distributing or possessing (small amounts of) pot in Washington state (for people 21 and over). It also seeks to regulate and tax marijuana sales. It does not change federal law, which names any marijuana sale or use a felony. Although, some argue it could, eventually.
From Rick Steves' website:
Marijuana is a drug. It's not good for you. It can be addictive. But its use is a reality, and no amount of wishing will bring us a utopian "drug-free society." Marijuana is a huge underground business in our state — some experts estimate that it's our second biggest crop, after apples. Untold billions of untaxed dollars are enriching gangs and empowering organized crime. And tens of thousands have died in Mexico because of the illegal drug trade in the USA. Facing this challenge, we believe the safest approach is to bring cannabis out of the black market and regulate it.
Hear more about his position this week as Steves' tour brings him to Seattle on Thursday night (10/18, 7pm. University of Washington, Kane Hall, Room 110; 1410 NE Campus Pkwy) and to Lynwood on Sunday (10/21, 7pm. Trinity Lutheran Church, 6215 196th Street SW).
Interestingly, as the New York Times reports, some of the strongest opposition to I-502 is coming from the people you would think would want to support it: medical marijuana users, who claim the measure actually leaves them at risk.
In the KCTS 9 Washington Poll released today, supporters of the measure outnumbered opponents.
For a comprehensive breakdown of I-502, check out livingvotersguide.org, where Seattle Public Librarians are contributing their fact-checking skills to discussion on all the ballot measures.