– State Democrats endorsed I-1068, but not without some consternation:
There was a small political skirmish here in Vancouver this afternoon—delegates made motions to consider 1068 separately, to extend debate, and to officially endorse the initiative. [State Vice Chair Sharon] Smith said that, “we expected this to come to a floor discussion. There are some things that are clearly Democratic party values, and then there are things like this that aren’t so clear.”
I’m not really sure what the heck Smith is referring to with that comment, so I went to the Washington State Democrats homepage to see if my previous notions of what Democrats stood for have changed radically in the past week. Here’s what they have listed on their “What We Stand For” page:
– Maintaining safety and security while seeking peace and cooperation
This is pretty obvious. I-1068 will greatly reduce crime by taking the production, sales, and massive profits out of the hands of criminal organizations. Crime decreased significantly after the end of alcohol prohibition, and it will do the same after the end of marijuana prohibition for exactly the same reason.
– Sustainable stewardship of our environment
The establishment of above-ground marijuana production and distribution will allow for environmentally responsible growing, rather than the environmentally destructive ways that it’s grown today.
– Fairness and economic opportunity, access to quality education and health care for all
I-1068 will finally allow for doctors and patients to openly discuss the benefits and risks of marijuana without fear of arrest or retribution. It will also provide for a large number of new above-ground jobs, just as what occurred when alcohol prohibition ended and legal beer distribution started up again.
– Equal treatment of all before the law
Drug law enforcement is arguably the single biggest problem with respect to ensuring that all people get treated equally within our criminal justice system.
– Fiscal responsibility, integrity, openness and accountability in government
One estimate from UW put the amount of money saved by the state after marijuana legalization and regulation at $105 million per year.
– Personal freedom, security, and privacy
The Democratic party simply can’t claim that they stand for personal freedom if they also believe that marijuana needs to be kept illegal. The two beliefs are directly incompatible. You either believe in personal freedom or you believe that government exists to impose morality over private adult decisions.
I understand that for years this was a topic that voters couldn’t have rational conversations about, but those days are clearly over now. Even Fox News has been running a number of pro-legalization pieces recently. Coming out in support of ending marijuana prohibition doesn’t carry the risks that it once did, and it might even help win elections. It was good to see the delegates at the state Democratic convention take this stand. Hopefully, Sharon Smith and the other holdouts will notice that it’s not 1988 any more.