Monday, March 29, 2010

Washington: Marijuana Legalization Gaining Momentum

By Steve Elliott at Toke of the Town

"It's an idea whose time has come," said Douglas Hiatt, co-author of Initiative 1068, which would legalize marijuana in Washington State.

And now it's time for voters to take matters into their own hands, according to Hiatt. "This year, one in six legislators sponsored marijuana reform legislation," the activist attorney said Tuesday at a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Building in Olympia.

"And again this year, major reform did not get out of committee," Hiatt said. "So we formed Sensible Washington and wrote an initiative that removes the criminal and civil penalties for adults."

Every poll taken shows that if I-1068 gets on the ballot, it will win. Washington voters support sensible marijuana laws.

Tuesday's press conference detailed a wide and diverse array of endorsements, from former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper to Republican legislator Toby Nixon.

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Photo: Douglas Hiatt
Douglas Hiatt: "It's time to change the law"

​Six bills were introduced in Washington this legislative session regarding marijuana legalization, decriminalization, and strengthening medical marijuana provisions.

The legalization bill, HB 2401, had a fiscal note prepared by the Office of Financial Management detailing millions in prosecution costs, not including local police enforcement. The same fiscal note suggested revenue of $300 million would be created by legalizing and taxing cannabis.

Nationally, the Obama Administration, through Attorney General Eric Holder, has told federal prosecutors to stand down on medical marijuana "because we don't want a war on our citizens."

According to Sensible Washington, ending marijuana prohibition is comparable to ending the prohibition on alcohol. Washington was the 25th state to ratify the 21st Amendment, on Oct. 3, 1933.

Seventy-seven years later, we've had four Presidents who admitted marijuana use, along with dozens of Olympic athletes, thousands of artists, and millions of ordinary people -- all of whom are considered criminals under current law.

"It's time to change the law," Hiatt said.

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​An Angus Reid poll conducted Dec. 3-4 showed that 68 percent of Americans believe the "War On Drugs" is a failure. Nationally, 53 percent support legalization.

In Washington, Survey USA's poll for KING-TV showed support for marijuana legalization is even stronger: 56 percent of respondents said legalizing cannabis is a good idea. Outside Seattle, there is strong support even in Eastern Washington, traditionally considered the "conservative" end of the state, with a majority, 52 percent, supporting pot legalization.

"Washington citizens have embraced common-sense, pragmatic reform, time and again," said Sensible Washington's Cindi Laws, "leading an unwilling government in numerous progressive reforms, from public power to public disclosure of campaign finance, increases in the minimum wage, reduction in toxics and nuclear waste, to legalization of abortion, medical marijuana, and the control of one's own death."

Volunteers are gathering signatures to qualify for November's ballot. The magnitude of the effort is huge. A single volunteer signature gatherer can get about 20 signatures an hour, on a good day, on an issue with broad public support.

Marijuana legalization has that broad support, but to gather the 300,000 or so signatures required to qualify for the ballot takes many hours, much coordination, and plenty of help. Campaign support and coordination of volunteers takes money.

Supporters can help get Initiative 1068 onto the ballot in November, first by signing it (here are locations where you can sign), and then by donating at:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

UW Looking For Marijuana 'Addicts'; Will Pay $150

Ever known someone who wanted help quitting pot? Me neither.

By Steve Elliott at Toke of the Town

They might have an easier time finding unicorns.

The University of Washington says it is looking for people who want to quit pot.

The UW School of Social Work's Innovative Programs Research Group is looking for 70 "marijuana-dependent adults" in the Puget Sound area to participate in a clinical research trial testing approaches for people who want to stop using cannabis, reports

The university says research has shown that nearly 3.6 million Americans use pot on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, UW then puts its reputation as a center of higher learning in serious danger by absurdly claiming that "between one-third and one-half of those are dependent."

I'd love to know where the University of Washington got those numbers, but since they seem to have only the most tenuous of connections to shared reality, I'm guessing they're from the "pull fake statistics out your ass" school of thought, sub-variety "I'll say anything to get one of those fat government NIDA grants."

"When people smoke marijuana they don't intend to become dependent on it, but marijuana becomes pervasive over time," said Cynthia Shaw, project director of what they're calling the "Marijuana Counseling Project."

"People work hard in treatment programs, and many stop or reduce their marijuana use while in treatment but lose ground quickly once they leave treatment," said Shaw, who obviously has very little real-world experience with -- or, apparently, even casual knowledge of! -- marijuana.

What Shaw didn't mention -- and I'm sure it was just an "oversight," umm hmm -- was that nearly all those people in rehab programs "working so hard" to quit marijuana were forced into those programs under threat of being thrown in jail.

The judge says "Go to Narcotics Anonymous and tell them you're a pot addict, or else go to jail." Bingo! Instant marijuana addicts! Works like a charm.

In any event, the Marijuana Counseling Project will test two nine-session counseling "proven treatments" (is your bullshit detector going off? I know mine is going crazy), "a blend of motivational enhancement therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy."

Participants will be offered additional counseling sessions "as needed," and half will be randomly assigned to receive post-counseling "checkups," which may well be a synonym for "piss tests."

To be eligible, volunteers must be at least 18, "want help in stopping marijuana use," and be willing to travel to Seattle's University District for "counseling."

Oh, and if you need a little additional "motivation" to claim you "want help in stopping marijuana use," they'll pay you to say so. Participants will receive $50 for each of two post-counseling interviews, and an additional $50 incentive if they complete both.

Let's see, that $150 would get me half an ounce...

If you are interested in fleecing these poor credulous academics by participating in their sham "study," or if you have questions about it, call Cynthia Shaw at (206) 616-3235 between 9 and 7 Monday-Thursday or 9-5 Friday, or email