Author: Holden, Dominic
Date published: March 9, 2011
Journal code: STRR
It's official. Every officeholder at City Hall-from the mayor and city attorney to each and every member of the Seattle City Council-is now on the record supporting legal pot. I asked them all the same question: "Are you in favor of legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana?" And they all said yes-eventually.
The last holdouts were Council Members Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell. Burgess-a former Seattle cop and barometer of relative conservatism on law-enforcement politics in Seattle-had never spoken out on this issue before. But now he says pot should be legalized. Harrell, for his part, says: "It is clear that our existing strategy of criminalizing marijuana use is a failed strategy."
These city officials are in popular company: Seattle was the first major US city to make marijuana the lowest law-enforcement priority, the conservative Seattle Times now supports legalizing marijuana, and Seattle Hempfest is the biggest legalization event in the United States.
So what next? The city can't overturn state prohibition, but Seattle lawmakers can pass a resolution that asks the state to tax and regulate pot. Then they need to lobby the state to do it.
State representative Mary Lou Dickerson (who represents Queen Anne, Magnolia, and Ballard) has a bill in the state legislature that would tax and regulate marijuana. It's probably dead in the water this year, but Dickerson will need Seattle's help-and the backing of everyone at City Hall-to push a similar bill next year.