From The Stranger:
A Bill to Decriminalize Pot Is Popular with Voters—So Why Won’t the Legislature Pass It?
Stoners get caricatured as layabouts who talk in circles, shrug off their responsibilities, and leave hard work to other people. But when it comes to reforming pot laws in Washington, it’s not stoners embodying this stereotype.
As this year’s legislative session begins, one of the bills still kicking around from last year’s session—after it stalled in the state house without a hearing—is a measure that would decriminalize marijuana. The bill would replace the existing penalty for possessing pot (up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine) with just a $100 citation, like a parking ticket. A fiscal report by the state’s Office of Financial Management shows the measure would save $11,283,360 a year in prosecution and jail costs. And relaxing pot penalties is plenty popular with voters. Polling data conducted in 2006 shows that 67 percent of state voters want marijuana possession to be decriminalized or legalized completely; national polls show a steady climb in support for removing all penalties for marijuana.
At first blush, pot reform in Washington appears to be making headway this year. The bill got a hearing in the house on the third day of the legislative session. But a closer examination shows the bill is likely to flounder. Despite plenty of reasons to approve the measure—again, it would save money and has strong statewide support from constituents—there’s plenty of endless buck-passing in Olympia. When pressed, lawmakers end up talking in circles about it and pointing fingers at each other, at the public, at Washington, D.C.—all while waiting for someone else to do the hard work for them.
[Read more at The Stranger]