Monthly Archives: June 2011

“New Approach” to Legalizing Marijuana


Maybe this time it’ll stick . . .


The group New Approach Washington announced the filing of an initiative to the legislature to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana. The initiative’s sponsors include Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, former federal district attorney John McKay, and ACLU-WA’s Alison Holcomb, as well as experts in medicine, drug treatment and prevention, law and  business.  The initiative calls for Washington to treat marijuana essentially the way we currently treat hard alcohol – with clear distribution and use restrictions – and will earmark a portion of the state’s revenues for drug education and prevention programs. The group is united in the belief that Washington should neither treat the adult use of marijuana as a crime nor promote its unrestricted use.  


The ACLU of Washington is in full support of New Approach Washington.  They argue our current marijuana laws are ineffective, unreasonable and unfairly enforced.  The initiative addresses many issues at the heart of the ACLU’s work:  racial justice, overreaching government, privacy, and over-incarceration.   The ACLU-WA is providing strategic support to New Approach Washington, and, as an in-kind donation, our Drug Policy Director Alison Holcomb is serving as campaign director.


Under the initiative, marijuana that is grown by licensed Washington facilities and sold through licensed stores will be made legal for people age 21 and over.  Clear restrictions, age-limits, regulations and taxing are established – measures that will increase safety, undercut the black market and provide state and local tax revenue.  In addition, the laws that allow authorized patients and providers to grow medical marijuana will continue in place.  The initiative is the most comprehensive and carefully drawn of any marijuana legalization initiative.  It is likely to become a national model for other state marijuana law reform, which is a prerequisite for change at the federal level.


My opinion? The time has come for marijuana legalization.  It is widely accepted that the War on Drugs has been an utter failure, and has caused far more harm than good. It is time for Washington to address this reality and to take a new approach.

Sheriff’s Office Patrolling the Waters

On land, sea and air . . .

Boaters hitting the water for the first weekend of summer should have a designated captain, as the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office will be launching extra patrols on county waters starting Friday, June 24.

The patrols will look for people who are boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol through Sunday. The effort is part of a nationwide weekend of enforcement aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents on the water.

As part of the extra patrols, deputies will be making contact with boaters, doing safety checks and performing enforcement. Regular enforcement patrols will take place throughout the 2011 boating season.

My opinion?  Watch your drinking!  BUI (Boating Under the Influence) is the same as DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and carries similar penalties: jail, court fines, loss of license, alcohol evaluations, probation, etc.  It’s tempting to drink out there in the open water, but BE SAFE.

DUI Emphasis Patrol Begin June 24

Be careful . . .

Extra DUI patrols will be enforced throughout Whatcom County from June 24 to July 4.

The patrols are part of an annual statewide emphasis on drunken driving. More than 20 percent of deaths related to drunk driving happen in June and July, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, which is funding the increased patrols through a grant.

During last year’s summer patrol emphasis, police arrested 91 motorists in Whatcom County for driving under the influence.

Drunk driving is involved in about half of all deaths on state roads, according to the commission. In 2010, there were 229 deaths involving a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Washington. That’s 17 percent below the previous five-year average.