A yes vote for marijuana Initiative 75 is a vote for reasoned drug policy
Seattle Gay News
Marijuana users have been the unwitting front line of America's war on drugs. This line is made up of a cross section of our society. They are our bothers, sisters, neighbors and bosses. They are only criminals because they use marijuana. In the city of Seattle, possession of one gram of marijuana could garner a 90 day jail term and a $1,000 fine - RCW 69.50.401, 69.50.408 & 69.50.425.
According to the Washington State Associations of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, forty-two percent of all state drug arrests are for marijuana offenses. Nine out of ten marijuana arrest are for possession, not distribution or sale.
Also this same Association reports that thirty firve percent of local marijuana arrest are African American while they only make up eight percent of Seattle's population (U.S. Census).
Seattle Initiative 75, calls for making marijuana possession to be "the lowest law-enforcement priority" by the police and prosecuting attornies. It also requires more specific reporting of marijauna arrests. Today a good portion of those arrests are classified as "miscellaneous" so there are no accurate records on the actual number of pot arrests and prosocution. It's inclusion on the November ballot gives Seattle voters the chance to bring a bit of rational thought to the mess that is drug policy today.
Washington State just recently cut the Health and Human Services budget by 15%. Seattle's libraries have been shut down for the last week, not enough money. Seattle and King County's parks are being locked because of budget shortfalls. Seattle has the same rates of violent crimes against people and property as other big cities and the police and prosecutors should use their precious tax-payers dollars to protect us from that violence.
Investigating and arresting pot smokers is not the most effective or efficient use of the public's time and money. Initiative 75 is a chance to save some local funds in the hard economic times Seattle is having.
Initiative 75 is a win-win for everyone.
By not arresting the casual user the police win by not having to waste their time on probably the most benign and least dangerous of all the outlawed drugs.
Initiative 75 is a win for the city. If enacted it would save the city maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars
- in police, prosecutor and investigation time.
- in bookings and jail time.
- It would also relieve some of the stress on an overburdened local judicial system, making that system more efficient and affordable.
It's a big win for all users.
- No longer will the user have to live with the stigma that comes with being branded a drug user and criminal.
- No longer will heads of households lose jobs because of a simple marijuana possession charge.
- No longer will students funding opportunities be at risk for a drug conviction.
- Even with legal medical marijuana in Washington State the law does not cover some common medical marijuana uses, like anxiety, depression, insomnia and anorexia. Initiative 75 would relax enforcement enough to allow all Seattle medical marijuana users access to thier medicine.
The Seattle Gay News encourages Seattle residents to vote yes on Intiative 75. It's an opportunity to create in our city a freer place to pursue happiness and promote health.
- Mike McNamara, Contributing Writer