Press Editorial

August 2, 2011

By Staff

Time to legalize marijuana is now

A surefire solution exists to end confusion surrounding marijuana laws — legalization.

The most sensible course of action is to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

Such a decision could end the confusion of medical marijuana users and municipal officials alike.

Issaquah upheld a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana collective gardens July 18, because state and federal law do not jibe on marijuana, medical or otherwise. City Council members kept a month-old moratorium in place while they crafted a possible solution.

Although the decision is not ideal, the temporary ban is a prudent response to a confusing situation. We call on the city to work quickly and compassionately to create regulations to allow medical marijuana users access to a drug allowed under voter-approved state law.

Meanwhile, King County is not bothering to regulate medical-marijuana operations in rural and unincorporated communities.

That means Issaquah medical marijuana patients authorized to grow pot can skirt the city ban and plant a garden in Klahanie, Preston or elsewhere outside city limits. But by bringing medical marijuana back to Issaquah, patients could face a hazy — and absurd — change in rules.

The argument for legalizing marijuana is not new, but some reasons merit repeating.

Prohibition is a failed policy. Marijuana is readily available. Licensing and regulation could improve safety, generate much-needed revenue and, most importantly, free up police for more important tasks.

Contrary to anti-marijuana propaganda, pot is not a gateway drug. Marijuana — like other legal and illegal drugs — has ruined lives, but the law cannot prevent such tragedies.

Legalization could help addicted marijuana users seek treatment, free from the fear of prosecution. No such stigma exists for people addicted to alcohol and prescription medication — legal substances under the law.

For most recreational marijuana users, smoking pot is nothing more than a harmless pastime. For medical marijuana users, smoking pot is a critical pain reliever and appetite booster.

Unfortunately, incremental steps to legalize marijuana only create more confusion. Citizens and cities must navigate a patchwork of confusing and contradictory laws.

The most commonsense — and compassionate — solution is to legalize marijuana.

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