Marijuana decriminalization in Washington state may be an impossible dream this year, despite the fact that it was just passed out of state Senate committee with a "do pass" recommendation.
After some pretty amazing remarks (for different reasons) on both sides of the debate, the Washington State Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-3 to pass out Senate Bill 5615.
SB 5615 reclassifies adult possession of no more than 40 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor crime carrying mandatory jail time to a civil infraction imposing a $100 penalty that can be paid by mail.
Democratic State Senator James Hargrove [office phone number (360) 786-7646] and Republican State Senator Pam "Doesn't Smoke A" Roach [office phone number (360) 786-7660] both managed to make complete asses of themselves with their ignorant tirades against the bill.
Rather than objecting to marijuana decrim on any rational basis, this dynamic duo of dimwits chose to resuscitate long-discredited Reefer Madness myths as valid reasons for the bill not to move forward.
Hates trench coats and massages: Sen. Jim Hargrove
Jim Hargrove, after emphasizing he's a college graduate, said that he saw one of his former fraternity brothers who smoked pot back in the day and -- apparently because of marijuana -- the poor pothead was still wearing the same trench coat he had 20 years ago.
(Side note to Senator Hargrove: If it's not too much trouble, can you put me in touch with your pot-smoking buddy? If the marijuana he smokes is so good it makes you wear a trench coat for 20 years --imagine the savings on clothes! -- I'd really like to try some of that shit. email@example.com. Thanks, man.)
What's worse, this dirty dope-smoker had the same hairstyle he had back then, and was actually taking classes at (shudder) Evergreen College. We've all heard of that bastion of "higher" education, now haven't we? Buncha damn hippies and commie pinko liberals, that's what they are, yessir. What's more, he even practiced some massage therapy -- yet another vaguely disreputable profession, we are given to believe.
I guess because Hargrove disapproves of his friend's dress, hairstyle, and lifestyle, we are supposed to keep arresting and jailing marijuana smokers, mmmkay?
Voters of Washington's 24th District, PLEASE vote this clueless clown out of office next opportunity you get, before he embarrasses you all again and does more damage. The bad news is you're stuck with this idiot until the 2012 elections.
And voters of the 28th District should be pleased to find that your State Senator Mike Carrell [office phone number (360) 786-7654] doesn't mind wasting lots of your tax dollars on enforcing futile marijuana laws.
According to the ACLU of Washington, there were more than 11,000 arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession in 2007 in the Evergreen state. The courts entered 3,600 convictions and imposed more than 16,000 days in jail. Police time, court time and jail time consumed approximately $7.6 million of YOUR tax money.
But Mike Carrell said it's not about your money; it's about the crucial importance of arresting marijuana smokers. So I guess you shouldn't mind at all, eh? Gotta get them potheads.
Carrell also, while admitting he's never been to Amsterdam, "helpfully" shared that "one of the greatest dangers" of visiting there is "walking on needles, and other things" because Holland's liberal drug policies have contributed to the "unraveling of their society."
Whoa, Mike; that would would come as a big surprise to the orderly Dutch, to find out their entire society has unraveled. Presumably they are too stoned to notice they're walking around on needles... Sigh.
Hates science: Sen. Pam "Doesn 't Smoke A" Roach
(Side Note to Pam: You shouldn't have taken down the link to that first picture on your State Senate site, darlin'. It was a lot more flattering, i.e., unlike you. Oops, did I say that out loud?)
And then there's the always-entertaining Senator Pam Roach (yes, she of the dreaded "financial disclosure irregularities"). Pam flatly stated, based undoubtedly on her vast knowledge, that marijuana "is a gateway drug." Never mind the science! Pam said so. I guess that settles it.
Hey, Mrs. Roach: It's not too late. Take a hit from the clue bong, baby. Study after study over a 30-year period has discredited the gateway theory of marijuana. You've had plenty of time to learn this. Either get your facts straight, or shut the hell up and get out of the way.
Roach also claimed that driving under the influence of marijuana is a big problem, once again displaying a contempt for actual science that seems to be endemic among the willfully ignorant. (Marijuana does NOT appear to appear to play a significant role in vehicle crashes.)
Five Good Senators
To thank the members of the committee who voted to pass (prime sponsor Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, my new hero Committee Chair Sen. Adam Kline, Committee Vice Chair Sen. Debbie Regala, and the eloquent, intelligent and articulate Sen. Rodney Tom, all Democrats; and Republican Sen. Bob McCaslin, who bravely crossed party lines to make this a bipartisan effort), visit:
Senators Kohl-Welles, Kline, Regala, Tom and McCaslin are real leaders, and deserve the continuing support and votes of the marijuana community.
Kohl-Welles in particular shined as she told why marijuana decriminalization really is a public safety issue: It burdens law enforcement and criminal justice resources to arrest and prosecute marijuana users caught with small amounts of the herb, while having absolutely no impact on use or availability of marijuana. Kohl-Welles rightly pointed out that the deprioritization of marijuana enforcement frees up police to pursue serious crimes.
Here's the video recording of the hearing (February 18 executive session) from www.TVW.org:
You can scroll forward to the discussion of SB 5615 by clicking on the progress bar at the bottom of the window. The discussion begins at 1:36:05.
I encourage all of you to watch and listen. It's a great opportunity to be able to hear our elected representatives engage in an open, public discussion and debate of our state's marijuana laws and the broader "war on drugs."
SB 5615 now goes before the Senate Rules Committee, which must take action to put the bill on the floor of the Senate for full vote. Senate Rules Committee members:
The companion bill, House Bill 1177, was referred to the House Committee on Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness, where it has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing. The bill is being held up in committee by pot-phobic asshat ex-cop State Rep. Chris Hurst (D-Enumclaw), chair of the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee. So it basically all comes down to this one guy.
Asshat ex-cop Chris Hurst ain't givin' up on the marijuana war
(Side Note to Chris: Dude. How hard did you think it'd be for me to link to another picture, after you disconnected the first one? Asshat.)
Next Wednesday, February 25, is the deadline for bills to be passed out of committee. Asshat Hurst flatly declares no hearing will be held.
He argues it would be irresponsible to move a piece of legislation forward before the federal government removes marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. Hurst claims he actually supports such a change, but says Washington state should not act ahead of the federal government. (Um, Chris? Isn't that what a leader does? Get out ahead? Otherwise, you're just a follower, a tool, and a political coward.)
Doing so, he argues, could lull citizens into harm's way with zero-tolerance federal authorities, such as the Coast Guard, DEA or border agents. Officer, er, Senator Hurst is apparently oblivious to the fact that a dozen other states -- including even Mississippi, for Christ's sake -- have decriminalized marijuana, and no such thing has happened.
If you'd like to call Hurst's office and let him know what you think about that:
Telephone (360) 786-7866
Or if you're one of his constituents, you can send him a message online:
Email Rep. Chris Hurst
In addition, if you are a resident of Washington, you can use this online form provided by the Washington ACLU to contact your state legislators:
Take Action: Marijuana Reclassification Bill