Seattle Times editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey examines a strategic disagreement among activists who would legalize marijuana in the state of Washington.
Marijuana is moving toward legalization. Fourteen states now allow it as medicine, which has changed people's view of it. The image of a user is no longer Cheech and Chong, but grandma.
"The states that were the first to legalize medical marijuana will be the first to legalize marijuana more broadly," predicts cannabis activist Ethan Nadelman of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Washington will be one of the first states. But how to do it? Legalizers don't agree.
Earlier this year the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington refused to support Initiative 1068. The ACLU supports legalization, but it wants regulations, and I-1068 didn't have any. It would have removed criminal penalties only. The ACLU's opposition curdled the initiative's fundraising, and it didn't make the ballot.
Last Sunday, the ACLU held a forum on legalization. Nadelman and others were here from Washington, D.C. Local organizers of I-1068 were not invited.
Their disagreement is not whether cannabis would be regulated. Of course it would be regulated. Like beer and wine, there would be rules about how it could be marketed, who could sell it and who could buy it. And it would be taxed — heavily.