In this session of the Washington state legislature, two bills were introduced in the House. State Representative Jeannie Darneille (D-Tacoma) has made the following statement about these bills.
“Regarding House Bill 1177, which would reclassify Washington’s marijuana laws, making possession of 40 grams or less of marijuana a civil infraction instead of a crime.
I agree with the sentiments of many Washingtonians, in that the criminalization of possessing small amounts of marijuana has proven to be a costly and ineffective drug policy in our state. The legislation proposed in HB 1177 sought to better distribute much needed funding within our criminal justice and court systems, and to help fund drug treatment programs for those who need it. The additional legislation proposed in House Bill 2401 allowed for the legalization of marijuana possession, instead of reducing possession to a civil infraction. I fully supported both HB 1177 and HB 2401.
HB 1177 and HB 2401 both recently had public hearings in the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness committee, where many citizens came to testify both in support and opposition. The bills were given an executive hearing today, January 20, 2010, where the committee members voted to not pass out these bills for a full House vote. Although legislation on this issue will likely not make it any further in this session, there are several initiatives which are currently being drafted to be put to a vote by the public in the November elections. I encourage you to follow the progress of those initiatives and to continue to support reform of our state’s marijuana laws.”
In a brief poll of other Pierce County legislators, Bruce Dammeier (R-25) and Tom Campbell (R-2) opposed the bills while Dennis Flannigan (D-27) supported the bills.
At the hearing, Steve Kirby (D-29) said, “‘Don’t count me all the way out, but count me out today because this is not the one [bill].”
“But before voting ‘no,’ Kirby said that an issue as monumental as changing the regulation of marijuana should be put to the public for a vote. Next November he might get his wish.
“An initiative filed a week ago Monday by the activist group Sensible Washington would legalize all adult marijuana possession, manufacturing and sales under state law.”
Sensible Washington will be working to collect signatures to put their initiative on the ballot in November. This is a daunting task, but it is made easier if the iniiative is well-known and has an simple tagline. Marijuana legalization may be the simple tagline.