Monday, August 5, 2013

Seattle City Council briefed about new marijuana law

Mark Kleiman, whose company (BOTEC) provides the Liquor Control Board with advice about implementing I-502, briefed the Seattle City Council today.

He started by noting that Washington now has three marijuana systems: the I-502 recreational market, the medical marijuana market, and the illicit market.  All three systems play by different rules.  The question he posed is: How much of the marijuana consumed in our state will be obtained through the I-502 system?  Several times during the briefing Dr. Kleiman made it clear that he thinks only one system should exist.

Dr. Kleiman went on to point out that there is no money set aside in I-502 for state and local enforcement of the new marijuana law.  While in the long-run less enforcement of marijuana laws may be needed, in the short-run more enforcement is needed.  If consumers are to buy taxed marijuana, people selling un-taxed marijuana need to be pushed out of business.  The main way they will be pushed out of business is if police enforce the law.

Minors will continue to obtain marijuana under the new law, just like they now get alcohol.  Dr. Kleiman seemed to suggest that minor in possession laws should not be enforced because he says that kids are then thrown in jail.  However, in Washington, youth who are cited for minor in possession are not thrown in jail.  The majority of them enter into diversion agreements which require that they receive a drug assessment.  After the assessment youth are usually either referred to a few hours of drug education or referred to treatment.  In the end, the enforcement of minor in possession laws can provide an important pathway for youth who need help to get that help.

If unable to view the video above, the briefing may be seen through the Seattle Channel's website.

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