Pubdate: Tue, 08 Jul 2014
Source: Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
Copyright: 2014 Battle Creek Enquirer


The legalization of marijuana in the United States seems inevitable. 
The long-anticipated "opening day" for marijuana retail sales in 
Washington state will be cheered by some and lamented by others, but 
the more prudent response for policy-makers should be one of discovery.

We know very little about marijuana use or the implications of 
lifting prohibition on the drug. Benefits and risks are likely 
overstated by advocates and opponents of legalization, but we don't 
know for sure because the federal government has long stood in the 
way of serious medical research of the drug. That needs to change.

A common refrain among more liberally minded citizens is that 
marijuana should be taxed and regulated like other products, but do 
we really want to create commercial industry that markets its 
products much same way that tobacco and alcohol are marketed today - 
often to the very young?

We can expect that legalization will increase its use and make it 
more accessible to minors regardless of how it's regulated. Are we 
prepared for the consequences of that?

Here's a look at editorials from newspapers in the Pacific Northwest, 
where citizens are confronting what we may someday encounter here:

- - from The Daily Astorian

This week marks the start of retail marijuana sales in Washington 
state - for some, a celebration-worthy milestone for libertarian 
principles, and to others, a troubling descent into libertine 
immorality. Between these two extremes, most residents of Washington 
and neighboring states barely care, other than to hope legalization 
doesn't result in more inebriated drivers.

Washington state repealed alcohol prohibition Nov. 8, 1932. It ended 
on the federal level Dec. 5, 1932, and Oregon voted to repeal July 
21, 1933. The repeal of marijuana prohibitions is unlikely to be 
anywhere near so quickly or nationwide.

..Marijuana, for good or ill, has never achieved alcohol's level of 
cultural saturation. So this week's launch of legalization in the 
Pacific Northwest is unlikely to be marked by photos of happy 
revelers to the same extent as in 1932 and 1933.But we all should 
pause and consider the tens of thousands of individuals still jailed 
and imprisoned for marijuana. In a nation where laws are supposed to 
be fair and equitable, this is an injustice.

- - Read more:

- - from The Oregonian

In effect, Washington voters have changed the question Oregonians 
will answer in November, when they cast their ballots for or against 
legalization. To a significant degree, the question of availability 
has been settled. Credit - or blame - rests with both Oregonians, who 
approved a wide-open medical marijuana system, and Washingtonians, 
who will now be peddling pot legally to thousands of Oregonians.

November's vote will really be about two issues: convenience and 
taxation. Now, those who oppose pot legalization aren't going to vote 
for it simply to save tokers time and money. But many may given the 
knowledge that Oregonians, beginning Tuesday, will contribute revenue 
to Washington that they would, given the chance, contribute to 
Oregon. The Oregon legalization initiative would devote tax revenue 
to, among other things, education and law enforcement.

The legalization campaign is young, and reasons may arise to oppose 
the measure despite the fact that many Oregonians will soon live a 
short drive from retail marijuana shops anyway.

At this point, however, the argument in favor of legalization 
certainly appears stronger than the argument against it.

Marijuana opponents who resent being maneuvered into an uncomfortable 
position by Washington voters should think of November's vote as an 
opportunity to fight back, depriving the Evergreen State of pot 
taxes, just as Oregon's liquor stores have captured a piece of 
Washington's liquor business.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom