Voters really need to consider the potential consequences of legalizing marijuana. The present initiative relies on uneducated voters to pass it based on several misconceptions.
First is that Washington will have a windfall of new tax revenue. This assumes that the tens of thousands of the people who possess and grow legal medical marijuana (up to 15 plants) will stop growing it. It assumes that all of the illegal marijuana dealers will also stop and not attempt to compete with legal sales.
These are false assumptions, which lead to another myth — that law enforcement will no longer need to focus on marijuana laws. As a former special agent for a narcotics task force, I can comfortably state that there are very few law enforcement agencies that focus on marijuana laws. However, if this initiative passes, you will have legal distributors losing business to non-licensed distributors calling on law enforcement to stop these non-licensed dealers from growing, selling and distributing illegal marijuana.
Another myth is that it will prevent teenagers from accessing marijuana. That same argument was posed with medical marijuana, and a recent study in Colorado found that over 70 percent of their sample study of teenagers in treatment had used someone else’s medical marijuana.
Another concern is that the federal government will enforce its law, keeping marijuana illegal, which is what happened with medical marijuana. A more important question is will the government withhold funds that should come to Washington for schools, roads and other federal projects? The government has withheld funds to states before when it forced states to lower their DUI levels to .08.
Passing this initiative could be one of the dumbest things we can do for our state, and the risks far outweigh any possible benefits we would get from additional tax revenues.