House panel to snuff out marijuana bills

  • Jerry Cornfield
  • Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:06am
  • Local News

If marijuana use is going to be legalized in Washington this year, voters will have to do it because legislators won’t.

On Wednesday, the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee is expected to vote down bills dealing with legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.

Rep. Chris Hurst, chariman of the public safety panel, told me there are not enough votes to move either bill out of committee. While amendments to one or both bills could be proposed Wednesday, he did not envision enough minds would change to alter the outcome.

There are five Democrats and three Republicans on the committee. The Republicans will unite against the bills. Hurst and Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Mountlake Terrace, both former cops, each said they will oppose the bills.

Hurst said votes could have been taken last week at the end of a two-hour hearing on the legislation. Sponsors of the bills requested time to ponder possible changes in response to criticism raised in the hearing.

He’s pushing to get the matter resolved to give backers of an initiative for legalization a clear field on which to wage their fight.

The issue is not completely stubbed out in the Legislature. A Senate bill decriminalizing use is still alive though no hearings on it have been scheduled as of this morning.

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