Wash. politician proposes selling pot in liquor stores
Published Saturday, January 29, 2011 2:56PM PST
A Washington State Democrat has introduced a bill to legalize marijuana and sell it in liquor stores.
Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson filed House Bill 1550 on Tuesday, which proposes pot be sold to adults aged 21 and up.
The bill argues regulation and taxation of weed would "generate revenue for health care programs" and "create jobs in the agricultural sector." It suggests the state's Liquor Control Board could issue licenses for marijuana growing.
It also blames marijuana prohibition for millions of dollars "wasted" prosecuting cannabis-related offenses.
Jacob Hunter of the Vancouver marijuana dispensary iMedikate called the legislation long-overdue, and commended Dickerson for her political courage.
"Politicians for the last 30 years have been terrified to stick their neck out on social issues until the courts force them to," he said.
He says Canadians would overwhelmingly support legalization in a referendum, but have never been given the chance.
"British Columbians particularly understand that alcohol is a far more dangerous substance that has been successfully controlled through regulation," he said.
"Teenagers have an easier time accessing illegal drugs than they do regulated substances like alcohol and cigarettes."
In an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released last November, 50 per cent of Canadians polled said they support legalizing pot. Support was highest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, at 61 per cent, and lowest in Alberta, where 45 per cent of respondents approved of legalization.
Hunter says his marijuana dispensary has been welcomed by the surrounding South Vancouver community, and that the majority of his clients are at least 50 years old.
"A large number of them appear to be older, at retirement age," he said. "It's been quite remarkable to meet these people who once saw marijuana as a scary, dangerous drug and now realize it's something that's benefitting them when they're quite ill."
On Wednesday, marijuana advocacy group Sensible Washington filed its own initiative to remove all penalties for possession, use or sale of pot in any quantity.
Washington state legalized medical marijuana in 1998. In 2009, Seattle City Council voted unanimously to support decriminalization.