Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Vigil In Seattle Protests Marijuana Laws; Smug Yuppies Object

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"Anti-drug advocate"/ obnoxiously smug yuppie Steve Danishek spouts ignorance and intolerance on cue for reporter Eric Schudiske

For the past nine years on Christmas Day, 5th Avenue and James Street in Seattle has been at the crossroads of the controversy over marijuana legalization.

As they've done every year in the 21st Century, protesters outside King County Jail held a pro-marijuana vigil, maintaining non-violent drug offenders should be home for the holidays, reports Eric Schudiske of King 5 News.

"We just think that otherwise law-abiding Americans should find alternatives to incarceration for marijuana use," said Vivian McPeak, organizer of the vigil.

Nevertheless, vigil organizer McPeak remains optimistic about the prospects for positive change. "We believe very strongly that we're in the last decade of marijuana criminalization," McPeak said.

Reporter Schudiske, in an apparent attempt to bring "balance" to his story, was predictably able to find some obnoxious anti-drug zealots who defended the practice of locking people up for smoking pot. (Really not too surprising, since Schudiske has been known to smooch a few cop heinies in the past.)

Steve Danishek, some yuppie moron living in the Seattle waterfront, expressed little sympathy for those damn scofflaw pot-smokers.

"They broke the law, they knew the law, they're in jail," a smug Danishek, who seemed offended that protesting hippies were even allowed in his high-rent district, said. "I'm sorry; that's just a choice they made."

So, how does that compare with the "choice" Danishek made to be a highly visible public advocate for the kind of sickening, heartless barbarity that locks people in cages for choosing to use an herb? You make the call.

Danishek, 63, and another well-do-do Seattle waterfront resident at 2000 Alaskan Way, Dee Tezelli, whined about how "marijuana abuse divides their family" and how Seattle's annual Hempfest "disrupts their neighborhood."

Good idea, Steve and Dee. Maybe they should pass a law where only shallow, judgmental assholes like yourselves -- who'd throw someone out of the family, even at Christmas, for smoking pot -- should even be allowed in your part of town. (Steve and Dee seem to be a couple, and Holy God, do they ever richly deserve each other.)

Those who oppose jailing cannabis users should be sure never to use Danishek's travel agency, TMA Inc., located at 4626 NE 174th Place in Seattle.

And they definitely shouldn't call Danishek at (206) 363-2523 to make any reservations.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bill To Legalize Marijuana Introduced In Washington Legislature

By Steve Elliott in Toke of the Town
Photo: Public Domain
Federal government pot farm at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS. Under Washington state's proposed legalization bill, pot would be grown by state-licensed farmers and sold only through state liquor stores.
Washington state pot advocates who thought they had to choose between a marijuana decrim bill ($100 fine for under 40 grams) and the status quo (including a mandatory night in jail for possessing any amount) just got another choice. A state lawmaker introduced a bill Monday to legalize marijuana in the state.
Under the bill, introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), marijuana would be legal for persons 21 and older to use and possess, subject to regulations similar to those controlling alcohol.
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson: Making the Evergreen State a little greener
Dickerson said she doesn't expect the bill the bill to pass. "I'm happy to start the conversation," she told Seattle political site PubliCola. "If more states start talking about [legalizing marijuana] it will get the attention of Congress."
Dickerson wants the legal pot to be grown by Washington farmers and sold in state liquor stores. Revenue from marijuana sales would pay for drug and alcohol treatment programs.
Cannabis revenues will probably be comparable to those for alcohol, Dickerson said, which are at about $330 million yearly in Washington.
Rep. Dickerson has five co-sponsors for the legislation so far: Reps. Scott White, Roger Goodman, Dave Upthegrove, Sherry Appleton and Mary Roberts, all Democrats.
HB 2401 was introduced Monday in advance of the next legislative session in January.
"This bill is a wonderful step forward for health, human rights, and social justice," marijuana researcher Dr. Sunil Aggarwal of Seattle told Toke of the Town. "No one should be criminalized for using marijuana, when far more dangerous drugs such as malt liquor are legally consumed. There should be equal rights for those who choose to consume cannabis."
"With the likes of Roger Goodman and the work that he's done over the years with the King County Bar Association Drug Policy Project, this bill really has a chance," said local activist Allison Bigelow.
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Photo: Joe Mabel
Patient/activist Vivian McPeak: The conversion to a mainstream commodity is going to be awkward
​But longtime marijuana patient/activist and Seattle Hempfest organizer Vivian McPeak expressed mixed feelings about the prospect of legalization. "The conversion from an illicit, underground substance to a mainstream commodity is going to be an awkward transition for many who have been involved with the cannabis culture for some time," he told Toke of the Town.
"It is going to be difficult for many pot scene old timers to let go of the cultural hold so many of us have on our old friend, the herb," McPeak told us.
Is The Perfect The Enemy Of The Good?
With just about any piece of legislation, it's not hard to find areas of concern once you start examining the wording, and HB 2401 is no exception.
One worrisome aspect of the bill is that nobody, with the exception of farmers licensed to sell pot to the state, would be allowed to grow their own. The language of the bill seems to outlaw all personal grows, keeping it illegal to grow, keep or transfer marijuana outside of liquor control board rules and licensing.
Cultivation of any amount for personal use, then, would apparently be prohibited. And the way I read it, your house or property could be seized if you had five or more plants -- which is not how I had pictured "legalization."
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Marijuana is safer. Why are we supposed to pretend it isn't?
​There's also the quibble, minor though it may seem at this stage of the game, that treating marijuana almost exactly like alcohol errs because the potential for abuse, addiction and accidents are so much greater with booze. No arguing with that -- just ask Mason Tvert over at SAFER; he'll tell you.
"It is very hard for me to embrace the idea of treating cannabis as alcohol, because there is just no comparison between the two substances as far as impairment, health effects, and addiction," McPeak told Toke of the Town.
"Perhaps this is the model we must use to change the dominant paradigm, but I feel we should fight tooth and nail to have cannabis put into its own unique classification," McPeak told us. "Simply compare death rates associated with the two substances and you'll see they do not belong in the same category."
"The bill does remove all current civil and criminal penalties regarding marijuana. And the bill regulates marijuana like we regulate alcohol -- which, it so happens, introduces a myriad of new crimes," one frustrated Seattle activist said.
But there's also the plausible argument that legalization, even of the sort in HB 2401 with its state monopoly on pot, could be a quantum leap over the deeply fucked up situation on the ground now in Washington: Recreational (as in non-medical) users unlucky enough to be arrested are presently subjected to a mandatory night in jail, possible additional jail or prison time, steep fines, and other indignities.
So would it be a deal with the devil to, for now, pretend marijuana is as harmful as alcohol, in order to get the laws to treat marijuana as leniently as it does alcohol? That's the Gordian knot being faced by wary cannabis users in Washington.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Washington State Bar Association Board Unanimously Backs Marijuana Decrim

A massive representation of a joint in a "rolling paper" evoking the American flag, 2008 Summer Solstice Parade, Fremont Fair, Seattle, WA (Photo: Joe Mabel)

By Steve Elliott at Toke of the Town

Marijuana decriminalization in Washington state just won some important allies.

This morning, the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Board of Governors (BOG) voted unanimously to support the decrim bill, SB 5615, in the upcoming session of the Legislature.

The BOG voted 9 in favor, 0 opposed, and 2 abstaining to support the bill, Alison Holcomb, drug policy director at the ACLU of Washington, has told Toke of the Town.

Read the rest of the story at the new Village Voice marijuana blog, Toke of the Town

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Washington State Considering Expanding Medical Marijuana Use

Washington state health officials are considering expanding the categories for which medical marijuana may be used.

​Washington State health officials are on the verge of deciding whether patients suffering from depression or certain anxiety disorders should be allowed to use medical marijuana as part of their treatment, Molly Rosbach at The Seattle Times reports.

Washington's medical marijuana law, adopted by voter initiative in 1998, limits the legal use of medical marijuana to patients who have been diagnosed with a "terminal or debilitating medical condition."

That includes patients with cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C and several other diseases causing pain or nausea "unrelieved by standard medical treatments and conditions."

On July 20 a petition was submitted to the Medical Quality Assurance Commission, which is responsible for deciding which conditions qualify for medical marijuana use, asking that they add bipolar disorder, severe depression and anxiety-related disorders to the list.

A public hearing will be held Wednesday night, Dec. 2, in Seatac to consider the petition. The hearing will be at 7 p.m. at the SeaTac Radisson Hotel, 17001 Pacific Highway S., SeaTac, WA.

Dr. Greg Carter: "It's much safer than opiate medications like Oxycontin because you cannot overdose on cannabis."

Dr. Greg Carter, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington and the first researcher to document the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating ALS, said marijuana is regarded as safe by many doctors when used responsibly.

"It's much safer than opiate medications like Oxycontin because you cannot overdose on cannabis," he said.

Carter noted that he doesn't personally treat psychological conditions, but that there is medical evidence that marijuana can be useful in treating bipolar disorder and anxiety.

Dr. Carter, along with NORML's Dr. Dale Gieringer and Ed Rosenthal, wrote the recently updated Marijuana Medical Handbook.

The commission and the board are expected to issue a written order with their decision in a few weeks, the Times reports.