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Around the Northwest

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Marijuana Is Legal in Washington State. Now What? By The Honorable Rich Melnick

“As the former chief federal prosecutor, I enforced our marijuana laws … I’ve come to believe they don’t work. Filling our courts and jails has failed to reduce marijuana use. And drug cartels are pocketing all the profits. It’s time for a new approach.” ­— John McKay, former U.S. Attorney


he lawful possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes by people older than 21 has been legal in Washington state since December. This sweeping social and legal change was approved by approximately 56 percent of Washington voters; it was a reaction to what many people believe is a failed policy on marijuana laws. The stated purposes are to give law enforcement more money to focus on violent and property crimes, to generate new tax revenue for education, health care, research and substance abuse prevention and to remove marijuana from illegal drug organizations and bring it under tightly regulated, state-licensed control. The state’s Office of Financial Management speculated the measure could raise $560 million a year in taxes. The implementation of the initiative is being phased in this year. The Washington State Liquor Control Board will hold public meetings to

12 | Willamette Lawyer

Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2013 Vol. XIII, No. 1  

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