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State of the City
Tue February 21, 2012
Seattle mayor: Legalize marijuana so we can stop crime
In his “State of the City” address, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn made an impassioned plea today for the legalization of marijuana saying in the illegal trade in drugs was fueling crime in the city.
“It is time we were honest about the problems we face with the drug trade. Drugs are a source of criminal profit, and that has led to shootings and even murders. Just like we learned in the 1920s with the prohibition of alcohol, prohibition of marijuana is fueling violent activity,” the mayor said in the written version of his speech.
He added that the war on drugs “fuels a biased incarceration policy. The drug war’s victims are predominantly young men of color.”
In a speech that covered the decline and recovery from the recession and the pressure funding cuts have put on city services and workers, the mayor’s focus on crime in the streets brought out the most reaction, according to the Seattle Times.
From his speech:
“Seattle is the kind of place that isn’t afraid to try a different approach. We support safe access to medical marijuana and made enforcement of possession of marijuana for personal purposes our lowest enforcement priority. But we’ve learned in the past year that with the federal war on drugs still intact, and with our kids still getting gunned down on the streets, we need to do more.
“I know every one of the city council members sitting to my left and right believe as I do: it’s time for this state to legalize marijuana, and stop the violence, stop the incarceration, stop the erosion of civil liberties, and urge the federal government to stop the failed war on drugs.”
The legalization initiative
Washington state lawmakers earlier this month decided that an initiative to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana will be decided by voters. If passed, Initiative 502 would make Washington the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and would place it at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.
Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who chairs the House State Government & Tribal Affairs Committee that was considering the initiative, said the Legislature would not act on it, meaning it will instead automatically appear on the November ballot.
Not all in favor
Opponents to legalization say it would likely increase marijuana use by teenagers. They argued that a better alternative would be pressuring the federal government to change marijuana's designation from a Schedule One to a Schedule Two drug, meaning it would still be classified as having a high potential for abuse but would also be recognized as having legitimate medical uses.
"If we start with the pharmaceutical end and move forward from there, I think what a great start we've already done," said Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza, who spoke against the initiative.
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State of the City