Seattle Times reports:
Youth use of pot and cannabis-abuse treatment admissions have not increased in Washington since marijuana was legalized, according to a new analysis by the state Legislature’s think tank.
Under Initiative 502, the state’s legal-pot law, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP) is required to conduct periodic cost-benefit analyses of legalization on issues ranging from drugged-driving to prenatal use of marijuana.
The think tank’s findings on youth use were not surprising as they were based on a biannual survey by the state Department of Health of students in the sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grades released earlier this year.
Pot use by students in all four grade levels was stable or has fallen slightly since I-502 was enacted, the WSIPP report said.
For instance, 17 percent of the 10,835 high-school sophomores surveyed last year said they consumed pot in the previous month. The level was 18 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2010.
Legalization was approved by Washington voters in November 2012. Legal sales began in July 2014.
The study also found that admissions to public treatment centers for cannabis abuse had fallen since legalization took effect, and that the cannabis industry had created more than six thousand full-time jobs.
On Friday, February 18, The Seattle Times ran an editorial endorsing HB 1550, a bill introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson that would tax and regulate marijuana in the state of Washington. The editorial was thoughtful, reasoned, and logical. Apparently, the Office of National Drug Control Policy doesn’t appreciate this kind of rabble-rousing.
As reported today in The Stranger, The Seattle Times received a call immediately after they ran their editorial from Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, who wanted to fly out to the Emerald City and personally meet with the entire editorial board. This meeting will take place on Friday. Please join us in requesting The Seattle Times live-stream their important and unprecedented meeting with the Drug Czar.
Beyond the obvious chilling of First Amendment rights implicated by an executive official making such a request, one can only assume that Czar Kerlikowske is making the cross-country flight on the American taxpayer dime. At the very least, Czar Kerlikowske will be ‘bullying’ the editorial board on the clock, meaning the taxpayer is paying for him to do this. Considering we’re paying for his flight and his meeting, we should at least be able to sit in via the Internet! In the interest of a transparent government, please join us in requesting that this meeting be streamed live via the World Wide Web.
Last week, a federal judge in Seattle sentenced prominent Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery to five years in U.S. prison, after Emery pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. For years, Emery ran a marijuana seed-selling business, the profits from which he donated almost entirely to marijuana policy reform efforts. For that reason, his prosecution by U.S. law enforcement has been viewed by many as purely political, a charge officials have since denied.
But in 2005, then DEA-head Karen Tandy touted Emery’s arrest as “a significant blow” to the movement to end marijuana prohibition, saying “hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery’s illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.” Such a statement should provide some insight into why U.S. officials have spent so many resources targeting (even extraditing) Emery over the years.
But of course that's old news, and not surprising. Instead, what really raised some eyebrows was this op-ed written earlier this month by John McKay, the former U.S. attorney who first indicted Emery in 2005. Writing in the Seattle Times, McKay now says that marijuana prohibition is a failure, is based on “false medical assumptions,” and that a new, science-based approach toward marijuana policy is desperately needed:
As Emery's prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I'm not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety. [...] We should give serious consideration to heavy regulation and taxation of the marijuana industry.
How's that for evidence of the changing political atmosphere surrounding marijuana policy?