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Is marijuana the fix for Washington's budget problems?

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:16 PM
  • 5 Replies

You have probably heard most of the arguments for and against the legalization of marijuana. The pro folks say it costs too much money to prosecute the crimes, and pot is no more dangerous than alcohol. Opponents claim it's a gateway drug, and legalization would make it far more accessable to children.

Those and many other popular arguments have been sung for years. One Seattle lawmaker is changing the tune. State Representative Mary Lou Dickerson is making the debate about dollars and cents. With the state in such financial trouble, she believes that Washington needs to get into the drug dealing business to put the balance sheet in the black.

"The only people that are profiting from this prohibition are the drug cartels and the black market criminals who are involved," she told a State House committee on Tuesday. "Why shouldn't Washington reap the financial benefits of legalization?"

Representative Dickerson has introduced a bill that would legalize the drug, tax it and make it available at state-owned stores. It's the second time that she's made this pitch in Olympia. She told the committee the state could pocket $400 million every two years if marijuana was legal. Most of that money would go to fund health care in the state.

But opponents like State Representative Christopher Hurst worry the federal government will spoil the party, since marijuana possession and distribution would still be a federal crime. "Would we ever really keep any of that money and what would we do to our state employees who would be going to federal prison on a consistent basis?"

Dickerson admitted that any legalization effort would be bogged-down in the courts for years, but she told the committee Washington should be pushing the issue. "Some state has to take the lead," she said. "I say to you that Washington State can lead, and because we take the lead we will reap the benefits."

Here's how Dickerson's bill would work. Marijuana would be legal for people older than 21. The state would impose a 15 percent tax on each gram sold. People could grow their own in small gardens that aren't visible to the public, and the state couldn't advertise. The bill would also allow for hemp production which Dickerson believes could be an economic boon to Washington.

by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:16 PM
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by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:17 PM


by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:23 PM

I'm from WA and think it's a great idea. Something has to be done. It's been legalized medically here and the only problems have been people who have federal jobs and can't use their prescription because conflicting laws may lead to termination.

by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:27 PM
I don't smoke it but it should be taxed regulates and restricted just like alcohol.

and when I read the topic I thought " yes!! if all of Washington's legislation just got stoned they would think of some awesome budgets!
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by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:42 PM


by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:46 PM

 i agree with this. Its gonna happen and WA might as well get on the ball

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