Why am I forced to vote on Initiative I-502 that “authorizes the state liquor control board to regulate and tax marijuana for persons 21 years of age and older, and add a new threshold for driving under the influence of marijuana?”
I worry about me as a self-diagnosed addictive personality who’s fought off addictions ranging from smoking to the computer game, Freecell. I’ve ignored marijuana, never having puffed a joint without inhaling, nor consumed a marijuana-infused product or brew without swallowing.
Compelled to be an informed voter, I learned marijuana’s addiction rate is low. Jann Gumbiner, a licensed psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine concluded, “Only about 9 percent will have a serious addiction.”
Several other sources indicated that rate is about the percentage of addictive personalities. I usually like being in the top ten percent, but not for addiction.
I resent a minority of users forcing me to vote on the issue. None of my aged friends admits to consuming marijuana, no doubt partly because our knuckles are too knurly to roll cigarette paper or prepare marijuana-laced recipes for lunch prior to afternoon naps.
Marijuana use surrounds my children, all of whom know adult users. Our oldest with two sons entering Seattle high schools said, “Pass it. Marijuana’s readily available in our high schools.”
The Initiative states, “The people intend to stop treating adult marijuana use as a crime and try a new approach that: (1) allows law enforcement resources to be focused on violent and property crimes; (2) generates new state and local tax revenue for education, health care, research and substance abuse prevention; and (3) takes marijuana out of the hands of illegal drug organizations and brings it under a tightly regulated, state-licensed system similar to that for controlling hard alcohol.”
But the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs opposes the initiative, as do others who believe the law is too restrictive, such as driving by patients who use it for medical reasons.
Andi Ervin, who worked locally to keep youth drug-free and currently is Co-Program Director of Okanogan County Community Coalition, is opposed. She warns medical experts agree marijuana is harmful for youth. “When something becomes ‘normalized’ for adults, kids don’t see the difference [for themselves]. This leads me to believe legalizing it would be a disaster for youth substance abuse rates.”
And yet The Children’s Alliance, a statewide public policy advocacy organization for children, announced, “I-502 is necessary to eliminate one source of the impact of racial disparities that are currently harming Washington’s children, particularly children of color.”
The Initiative is strengthened by an appealing argument ‘that the government doesn’t have any right to tell me what I can I do with my body as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else.’
That argument is utterly baseless because individual behaviors accumulate one by one in our complex society until they affect everyone. My smoking endangered family members and playing Freecell wasted time and led to deception, both of which impaired my responsibilities and intimacies as a husband and father.
Reluctantly, I read and scanned the 65-page bill on the Secretary of State’s website. Its effect would be significant.
It’s comforting to know New Approach Washington wrote it. New Approach describes itself as “a coalition of Washington citizens, [including] doctors lawyers, treatment and prevention experts, business people and parents [who] consulted with policy experts, community stakeholders, and leaders within the Washington legislature, executive agencies, and judiciary to craft a detailed proposal for taking a step in a new direction.”
OK, I acquiesce, I’ll vote yes.
Here’s a warning for users who think it’s too restrictive. Don’t even think about asking me to support something less restrictive for now. You’re already threatening me with my predilection to addiction.