Updates on the various drug law reform items I’ve been following:
– Yesterday, former U.S. Attorney for Western Washington John McKay, along with former police officer Tim Burgess and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, encouraged the state legislature to legalize marijuana and have it sold in state liquor stores. At the very least, I’d like to see a vote on this bill. There are a lot of legislators in this state who talk a good game on the budget, and it’d be interesting to see how many of them have the courage to put politics aside and walk the walk.
– The trial of medical marijuana provider Bryan Gabriel ended with a hung jury. Eight jurors found him not guilty, three found him guilty, and one was undecided. It’s not known yet whether King County Prosecutors will attempt to retry him, but I have trouble believing that they would. The case they had against Gabriel was laughable (and it’s worth pointing out that they filed these charges on the day Snoqualmie Police were forced to return 10 ounces of medical marijuana to him from a different sting operation – and 15 months after the alleged transaction took place). In trial, they had no audio or video evidence, no fingerprints, and the person to whom Gabriel allegedly sold the bag wouldn’t even testify under oath. Only Snoqualmie Police officers took the stand for the prosecution. If Satterberg’s office balked at bringing charges against Ian Birk because they wouldn’t be able to win a conviction, then what the hell was this?
– On Monday there were a number of raids across Montana shutting down marijuana production facilities. Just as in Washington, Montana has legalized the use of medical marijuana, but hasn’t established a network of distribution to supply their patients. But unlike here in Washington – where we’re on the verge of legalizing both dispensaries and licensed grows – their legislature tried to repeal their still-popular medical marijuana law. As the Montana State Senate deadlocked on the repeal bill, the Obama Administration’s DEA began shutting down the facilities across the state anyway. Because these facilities were operating outside state law, this wasn’t a violation of Obama’s stated position on medical marijuana, but this certainly appears to be a case where the Obama Administration is working closely with Montana’s Republicans to gut a law that both the people of the state and the state’s Democrats both support. There’s no excuse for that.