We recently sat down with 36th District Representative Mary Lou Dickerson to talk about what she’s working on for the upcoming legislative session, which convenes on January 11, 2010. One bill she’s looking to sponsor is one which would legalize marijuana. Below are her words:
“We have spent a fortune investigating and incarcerating people for using marijuana. We have not only spent huge sums in this failed effort, we have required individuals and families to spend huge sums on lawyers and other expenses in order to avoid drug-abuse violations on their records. Those who couldn’t afford an effective legal defense have often seen their jobs and lives seriously harmed by the record of the legal violation.
And what have we accomplished with these societal, personal, and family costs? I don’t see the positive benefits. The expensive emphasis on prosecution and fines or other punishment has not deterred marijuana smoking, nor has it had any noticeable impact on accessibility to marijuana. The fact that other countries which have legalized marijuana have not seen consumption rates rise sharply is further evidence that our present policy is a monumentally expensive failure.
The people I represent have made clear how they feel by their votes on medical marijuana and their votes on the local ordinance that made marijuana investigations the lowest police priority.
As Chair of the Human Services Committee, which oversees corrections and juvenile justice issues, it’s long been clear to me that we need to make smarter investments in criminal justice, drug and mental health treatment and other efforts that DO work to reduce criminal and unhealthy behavior. We simply can’t afford to waste more time, money or human resources on efforts that don’t work and that can actually backfire to harm people we want to help.
Treating marijuana more like liquor will turn a drain on our scarce resources into a net benefit that can help us fund drug treatment and other strategies that really do make a positive difference to people’s lives.”
Representative Dickerson hosts a coffee hour each Tuesday at the Phinney Ridge Starbucks (316 N 67th St) from 9:30 a.m. to 10: 30 a.m. (Representative Dickerson is a sponsor of MyBallard.)