Inside Opinion

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Tag: marijuana

July
6th

Immigration, drug cartels and a Lakewood murder

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Still need a reason to look kindly on immigration reform? Would a defeat for Mexican drug cartels do the trick?

Some Americans might still have the perception that Mexico’s depraved drug lords are pretty much preoccupied with fighting each other and their government, with some thuggery spilling over into Arizona and other border states.

If only. Cartel operatives and contractors have thoroughly penetrated the United States, and many of them are Mexican criminals who camouflage themselves as ordinary Mexicans who crossed the border for jobs. The fact that so many of the

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June
11th

What’s holding up that marijuana decision at Justice?

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Is there something about marijuana that leaves Attorney General Eric Holder speechless?

It’s been more than seven months since Washington voters approved a system of regulated, licensed pot sales. But under federal law, everything about marijuana — growing, distributing and selling — is illegal.

Not since the civil rights era has there been such a stark conflict between federal and state laws.

But Holder remains mum on that conflict. State officials are reduced to trying to decipher a handful of opaque statements from the Justice Department.

Washington’s Liquor Control Board is charged with writing rules for the new industry, but its members can only go so far without knowing what Justice will do. Will it move to enforce federal law? Adopt a wink-and-a-nod toleration policy, as Holder did with “medical” marijuana? Try to legally finesse the issue with some kind of a waiver?

Local legalization is a legal dilemma, to be sure, but Justice is full of bright people who get paid a lot of money to untangle legal dilemmas. Holder has thousands of attorneys at his command; it’s hard to believe he couldn’t move faster if he wanted to.

We didn’t like Initiative 502, primarily because we’re worried that it would expand marijuana use among adolescents. But genuinely controlled legalization would be a big improvement on the status quo if it could shut down today’s black market, which readily supplies pot to any interested teenager.

Lest memories fade, we’ll note that Holder and his boss, Barack Obama, also bear heavy responsibility for the existing marijuana bazaar in Western Washington.
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April
8th

Toking and tippling make for a deadly cocktail

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Forget the Legislature. The real action this year is at the Liquor Control Board.

Under Initiative 502, the board is charged with making an item of two things that normally mix like oil and water – marijuana and regulation.

The new law is, well, a law. It legalizes pot but also tells stoners what they can and can’t do. Stoners tend not to be obsessed with legalities.

The oil and water have yet to mix. The latest example is two South Sound bars – Stonegate in Tacoma and Frankie’s Sports Bar and

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April
2nd

Despite I-502, illegal pot threatens to undercut legal

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

“Legalize it and tax it,” went the mantra of marijuana advocates trying to mainstream the drug. Washingtonians got the legalization part when they passed Initiative 502; they may not see much of the tax part.

The Liquor Control Board’s new pot consultant, Mark Kleiman, has thrown icy water on giddy projections that the state might collect hundreds of billions of dollars from taxes on legal sales of marijuana.

That’s not likely, Kleiman said, for several reasons. Chief among them is the criminal black market in pot that will continue to lurk in

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March
20th

Save marijuana licenses for those who play by the rules

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The Legislature doesn’t normally amend an initiative within two years of its passage. But the state doesn’t have that kind of time as it makes the rules for the soon-to-arrive legal marijuana industry.

The Liquor Control Board – which will regulate legal pot – has to get it right the first time. That’s why lawmakers should deliver the required two-thirds majority to make necessary tweaks to Initiative 502.

State Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, has proposed an important amendment to the initiative. It would allow the board to charge fair-market rates for the growing, wholesaling and retailing licenses it will distribute.
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Feb.
24th

So how do sales to minors stop under I-502?

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

One goal should be paramount as the state Liquor Control Board tries to build a legal marijuana industry from scratch: Keeping the drug away from adolescents.

The people behind Initiative 502 promised – we believe in good faith – that the ballot measure would help discourage teenagers from getting into pot. We were skeptical and remain so, though we’d love to be proven wrong.

No responsible person thinks it’s a good idea for 15-year-olds to consume cannabis. For many adults, the drug is a take-it-or-leave-it diversion. It’s another story for kids with developing brains: Marijuana can knock them out of school, turn them into daily users and derail their lives.

I-502 has already removed one of the chief deterrents to marijuana use: the stigma of illegality. Teenagers pick up on signals from adults. This signal says, “Pot? No big deal.”

The initiative proposed to counter this by making the existing black market go away. Thousands of traffickers and grow operations would be replaced by a tightly controlled system of licensed farmers and retail stores. The rules would be written and enforced by the state Liquor Control Board.

The board has been gathering testimony on what the system should look like. At hearings around the state, it has been deluged by – surprise! – big crowds of traffickers and growers who want in on the deal. They want lots of people – namely, themselves – to get the lucrative farming and retailing licenses the board will be passing out some months from now.

A lot of licensees is bad – very bad – if sales to minors are in fact an overriding concern.

Will it be easier for the Liquor Control Board to police 200 retailers or 2,000? The question answers itself. The board cannot direct the flow of marijuana if it waves a magic wand over the existing black market and calls it legal.
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Jan.
22nd

Legal pot in Washington: What it should look like

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Here’s a gig. The state Liquor Control Board is looking for consultants who can tell it “how marijuana is grown, cultivated, harvested, cured and processed.”

Also, “How marijuana is infused into food and beverages. How marijuana should be packaged, labeled, transported and sold at a retail level.”
There are plenty of experts out there, no doubt. The question is, do they have to pass a background check?

This sums up the fix the liquor board is in as it tries to turn legal marijuana into reality.

Initiative 502 ordered the board to create a full-blown, highly regulated industry – “from seed to sale,” as the agency describes it. It has to make the rules for everything from licensed grow operations to processing centers to retail pot stores.

The problem is, nothing of the sort has ever been done. Anywhere. In the world. No one knows what it looks like.

As the liquor board proceeds to do the unprecedented, some principles ought to be followed.

For starters, the industry should be given no freebies. This is one case in which an initiative needs immediate tinkering by the requisite two-thirds majority of the Legislature.

The measure lets would-be growers and retailers into the game for a piddling $1,000 license fee. But legal marijuana could turn into a $1 billion-a-year industry. If it does, these would be licenses to print money.

If Washington must have legal marijuana, it should charge applicants what the market will bear. An auction, for example, could produce a bonanza of fees for the state – money that could help fund the looming struggle to keep cheaper and more abundant marijuana away from schoolchildren.
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Dec.
30th

A banner year for same-sex couples and pot smokers

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

2012 was the year that Washington voters made history on the national stage.

This state became the first in the nation to allow same-sex marriages by virtue of voter approval, not through legislative or judicial action. And – for better or worse – voters made Washington one of two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana (Colorado is the other).

The Nov. 6 approval of Referendum 74 was an important step forward for civil rights and has galvanized proponents of same-sex marriage in other states. Passage affirms that a majority of this state’s voters believe homosexuals should have the same right to marry the one they love as heterosexuals – with all the benefits and responsibilities that go along with that right, at least at the state level.
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