Legalizing marijuana in Washington state is a bad idea. We urge voters to reject Initiative to the Legislature 502.
We take this stand not because we see marijuana as significantly more insidious than alcohol.
Nevertheless, we don't see a lot of positives coming from an increased use of marijuana.
We favor marijuana for medical purposes and continue to believe it should be regulated like prescription medications.
The reality is recreational pot smokers inhale simply to get high. That's not always the case with alcohol. People who have one or two drinks in social occasions aren't necessarily significantly impaired.
However, when stoned on marijuana, people are impaired. Steady use can make them unproductive and unmotivated.
Now, we understand some people can smoke marijuana occasionally without slowing their productivity or messing up their lives. Yet, many become pot heads who literally allow their potential to go up in smoke.
Passage of the initiative would not only make marijuana easier to obtain, it would make it even more socially acceptable.
So do we, as a society, really want to make it any easier than it already is to get stoned?
Sponsors of this proposal are touting this plan as a reasonable way to regulate marijuana, tax it and stop wasting law enforcement resources policing its use.
"Marijuana prohibition has wasted billions of American taxpayers' dollars and has made our communities less safe," proponents wrote in the statement for the measure in the state's official voters guide. "Just as when we repealed alcohol Prohibition, we need to take the marijuana profits out of the hands of violent organized crime."
The difference between alcohol prohibition is that alcohol had been legal. When people drank illegal booze it did not carry a social stigma.
People still wanted alcohol and some of the booze produced illegally was dangerous causing health problems or death.
Today's illegal marijuana, while more powerful than pot 30 years ago, does not carry those health risks.
Pot has long been illegal just like other drugs used for recreational purposes.
Making small amounts of marijuana legal in Washington state isn't going to dent violent criminal organizations selling meth, cocaine and other drugs across the globe.
But it will turn Washington state into a more attractive place to live for those who are heavy into weed. That could carry with it many downsides.
The issue of marijuana decriminalization and its legal distribution has to be tackled at the national level.
Right now, marijuana is illegal under federal law. And since federal law supersedes state laws, legalization in Washington would not make it fully legal.
This initiative is going to create more problems than it solves.