Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, ‘Legalize marijuana’

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.)

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

58 thoughts to “Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, ‘Legalize marijuana’”

  1. A woman with a good head on her shoulders. Now if we can just get a majority of politicians to think so clearly on this subject, we'd actually make some positive changes in this world.

    Vote for politicians who support ending prohibition!

  2. Yes! I've thought for a long time that making criminals of people who smoke pot was wrong and a waste of our taxpayer dollars.

    The prohibition of alcohol resulted in increased crime and violence just as it has with marijuana. It is time to repeal this prohibition as well and to redirect our tax dollars to more productive things such as Rep. Dickerson suggests.

  3. Yeah, what they're doing now isn't working.
    Plus the fact legalization would keep those using it medically from being persecuted, as well. Hooray, Rep Dickerson!!!!!!

  4. Well as long as the D.O.J. stands true to their order then this looks good on paper. But as long as it remains on the federal books as illegal then it doesn't matter if Washington, Oregon or any other state legalizes marijuana. It is a states rights vs. federal rule.

  5. As far as I understand it, Obama has said that the Fed will no longer prosecute or intervene, effectively leaving it open to the states to decide. The Fed laws will soon change to, I reckon.

  6. I'm called the crab for a reason! Do you want more impaired people driving on the streets you travel? Aren't we paying a price with alcohol impairment? Also what about the safety of your person and property? A 'user' has to be able to afford to purchase the stuff! Maybe you will be 'high' and won't even notice! Good luck………

  7. In society today adults have to make millions of important decisions, a lot of which can have a drastic effect on their lives, even death. We are responsible for our choices, and we suffer and prosper from our choices, it’s what makes each individual who they ultimately become. This is called freedom of choice, ownership of ones self. We are legally allowed to make these choices everyday, including many that can be instantly fatal such as riding recreational dirt bikes for the thrill of it, even though it could cost us our lives, its our choice to make.

    By trying to force people into not consuming a natural plant we are effectively causing more harm than if we were to let each adult make their own choices and except the consequences for those choices. The harm prohibition has brought to not just our own country, but the vast majority of the world is on a remarkably large scale, and threatens our national security. By choosing to prohibit this substance, we have chosen to ignore it and to let it be controlled by the black market. This in turn has enriched criminal enterprises to the point they have the financial power to compete with their own governments on a military bases as seen in Mexico. This is a national security threat. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and the majority of citizens know this, this in turn creates disrespect for law enforcement thereby furthering the deterioration of our community as a whole. It is inhumane to lock a person in a cage and take away their belongings they worked for when they did nothing to harm any other individual or society. Current marijuana laws are a civil rights nightmare waiting to happen, and only makes marijuana readily available to anyone of any age. The laws are obviously bad, expensive and unyielding in accomplishments. We spend billions each year to try and stop marijuana consumption, and yet the DEA admits they would be surprised if they are even getting 1% of the drugs being transported. That’s a bad investment, and the majorities do not agree with it, and there is no justification for making marijuana illegal in the first place.

    Prohibition is bad for our kids as they have complete access to it as long as its being controlled by the black market, what we need is control and regulation to minimize the exposure of drugs to young children. As long as it is illegal or decriminalized there will be a black market selling it at a marked up value because of risk, and all the harm will continue.

    By legalizing marijuana we are effectively controlling its distribution, and can much better regulate its use by age limits.

    Simply put, it’s a real no brainer and it will eventually happen, so if it’s not working now, and has the potential to be better why would we stay put?

    Let’s not continue to turn regular tax paying citizens into tax burdens for the rest of us,
    there comes a time when you have to realize a bad investment is a bad investment.

    Please help us do the right thing, listen to the people of California who have bravely stood up for a positive change in our society, drugs may not bee good for us, but prohibition has proven far worse.

  8. The impaired driving is a legitimate concern, but somewhat overblown in regards to marijuana. I would assume that if the use and possession of small amounts was decriminalized that the DUI laws would still apply as impaired driving is impaired driving whether it's alcohol, pot, meth, or prescription pills.
    Pot smokers are hardly the ones who steal to pay for marijuana. The more addictive drugs like meth and heroin do take over people's lives and bring them to that position of stealing to support the addiction, but marijuana is at most habit forming and hardly the addictive substance that the other drugs mentioned are.

  9. Great post, Cathy!

    It seems obvious to me that marijuana will eventually be decriminalized, I just hope it's sooner rather than later. Every day we wait is more money and lives down the drain, and more money in criminal's pockets.

    It seems to me from the comments here and from friends and family in Seattle that I've discussed this with that there would be overwhelming support for decriminalization if it were on the ballot.

  10. What a smart woman! Finally someone who uses rationale thinking to make decisions! I which she was my representative here in Virginia!

  11. Exactly. If they regulate it like they do alcohol that wont be any more of a problem than it is now. It'll just be a 'lesser crime.'

  12. I am apalled…legalizing marijuana is not he answer to saving money…Mary Lou also wants homeless camps all over Ballard, but won't take any in her own home…I think shge wamts to legalize it so she can continue pickling her own brain.

  13. As they say in Holland, you can either tolerate things that you don't like (assuming no one gets hurt), or you can build more prisons. In the US we've chosen to build more prisons. This choice costs us billions of dollars a year in enforcement, judiciary, not to mention private legal expenses. It is insane how much of our resources we devote to criminalization of marijuana.

    The fact is that people will use marijuana whether it's legal or not. Our current policies have been nothing short of a failure. We pay through the nose for these policies in terms of monetary costs, not to mention the cost to our freedom as informed adults not being able to make informed decisions.

    Even if the federal law would trump state law in this case, I applaud Rep. Dickerson for approaching what is a rather controversial issue. Getting the conversation going is the first step, and if states begin to decriminalize marijuana en masse, the federal government will eventually have to relent.

  14. Valid medicinal value, it’s a victimless crime, the War on Drugs WAY too costly, too many arrests for simple possession, tax it and use the money to pay for health insurance and to reduce the deficit…Need I say more?

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  15. Whooo hoooo, when ever I’m sitting around having a toke, all I think is “if they just taxed me, they could put people on Mars with the money”.

  16. The first steps to getting the federal laws marijuana laws changed will be local communities changing their laws to reflect the desires of their citizens. So Rep. Dickerson's well reasoned argument is a useful part of the process to get a new marijuana policy locally and eventually nationwide. And Obama's relaxation of the prosecution of medical marijuana is also a helpful, realistic step.

    Prohibition of something many citizens want doesn't work, period. This should've been a lesson we took away from the failure of the Volstead Act, wishfully called “The Noble Experiment.” A misguided prohibition weakens the legitimacy of a democratically elected government and squanders resources that are needed elsewhere in society.

  17. It's good to see Rep. Dickerson endorsing what health professionals and criminal justice experts have recommended. However, there is a well financed opposition to decriminalization of marijuana, and it's not the criminal distribution networks. It is the industrialized prison system. People incarcerated for cannibis violations make docile workers in the slave system in many prisons, and the for profit system uses its Puritanical work validation to justify scooping them up. As taxpayers and family members, we subsidize this system. Time to stop building prisons, an expensive non-solution to social and health problems.

  18. “People incarcerated for cannibis violations make docile workers in the slave system in many prisons, and the for profit system uses its Puritanical work validation to justify scooping them up”

    Dude, you are a walking case study for how smoking pot can fry your ability to think straight. I'm all for decriminalization, but dude, it ain't a conspiracy.

  19. Mary Lou, it is your wonderful pragmatism that makes me so glad you represent me. Keep up the good fight for sanity in the nation's drug policies.

    It's far past time to stop demonizing Americans who seek to expand their consciousness and grow and imbibe their own medicines.

  20. How on Earth does Rep. Dickerson hope to sustain a career in politics when she insists on using good common sense, a practical approach to our inane drug policy and listening to her constituents?

  21. It is the stigma that scares many people who use smoking pipes to keep it a secret. One of the problems inhibiting legalization is that people who smoke a glass pipe are not considered serious or mature. It is the public to make our choices known and to make sure our voices are heard. With the economy the way it is today this is the best chance to change the law. Send a letter make, send an email make a phone call, every hand written Letter that makes it to a representative is considered to be the voice of thousands of people who did not take the time to write and that is a power we all have.

  22. I applaud M. Dickersons progressive and realistic stance regarding the social and economic repercussions of marijuana prohibition. I would suggest, however, that there are broader implications related to this situation. While the primary focus of this bill relates to the legalization of a recreational drug, I feel that it is imperative to further consider the utilization of marijuana's cousin strain – hemp.

    While reversing the nonsensical marijuana laws is certainly a step in the right direction, I believe that when facing the stereotypes and stigmas of marijuana, it is important to bring all pertinent and beneficial facts to the table.

    I would encourage M. Dickerson or her staff to take the opportunity to read “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by Jack Herer, which is an exhaustive expose' of the history and potential of not only marijuana, but hemp. While many individuals may continue to stonewall any honest and open discussion based on a Reefer Madness mentality, the undeniable facts of the benefits of the cultivation of hemp cannot be denied – and because hemp is not a psychoactive drug, the “What about the Children?” defense becomes a mute point.

    I wish you the best of luck in your efforts.


    S. Osweiler

  23. Haha, they are going to do it either way. You obviously don't smoke marijuana. Pull the wool over your eyes, sheep. Alcohol impairment is extremely worse, and if the south would jump on the band wagon, maybe we could stop the smuggling of marijuana from south of the boarder, funding the mexican mafia and other organized crime, take the money out of the hands of organized crime. Legalization, it will help in more ways than one. There is a lot of kind people who smoke marijuana, people from every walk of life.

    For the record, hempfest as an example. If it was a gathering of people getting drunk there woulda been a lot more problems. On the way in the door we had people screaming we were going to hell, while he probably goes home and indulges on alcoholic beverages.

    I've known a lot more people die directly attributed to alcohol, only people that die in results of marijuana would be the organized crime as I mentioned earlier.

  24. “And what have we accomplished with these societal, personal, and family costs? I don’t see the positive benefits.”

    Ever been to Amsterdam? There's no need for what you propose… anyone who wants to smoke dope in WA can & does. Law enforcement seldom targets anything but the largest operation. It's just another step towards the Amsterdam model. Go ahead and make Seattle a sister city to them, but keep the rest of the state out of your inaneness.

  25. Dear Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson ,

    I am so happy to hear that you are sponsering this bill. I am a councilwoman in Chewelah WA. I have been fighting a huge battle in trying to get my baby granddaughter home with her sibling and me since she had to leave on January 21, 2009. I was accused of using MJ 30 years ago! So many accusations were coming at me, I could not respond. A psych eval was ordered that could have taken my oldest custodial granddaughter of 10 years; yes, I had to surrender the baby to save the other child as she was in my care as a foster child. Social services finally agreed this was rediculous and tried to bring her back home, CASA objected and held an all day hearing, stating again that I had used MJ all these years ago; the judge stating that I was responsible for my 31 year old daughter's drug abuse. I was involved in the signing of the Becca Bill in the 1990's. This is all wrong. CASA won and by hiring my prior divorce attorney from 1995! I have filed a grievance against this attorney. CASA worker admitted to having 2 prior arrests; my prior divorce attorney has been admonished in the past for wrongful conduct, yet I cannot have my baby granddaughter home with her sibling and me. I asked for 2 weeks to obtain counsel before surrendering my baby granddaughter, per foster agreement, and was denied. My foster agreement stated that I be allowed 2 weeks. I was put in a locked room, accused of MJ use all those years ago and do not have my baby granddaugher today; her sibling is so sad, has developed asthma from the stress of not having her sister. Baby's crib is still set up as is her high chair. All because an alleged ex, deceased husband of 20 years, may have used MJ. Now our child is in a foster to adopt home. The CAPTA bill will pay the state to adopt her even though I am a licensed foster parent; have owned my home for 5 years and served on my city counsel. I have a flawless background, no complaints with my other granddaughter of 10 years. All because of false allegations that I used MJ 30 years ago! If you need my story, I will help you any way I can. Thank you for sponsoring this bill. If alcohol were an issue, nearly every child would be taken with exception to a priest. I have lived alone for 16 years, raising my granddaughter for 10 years. My daughter, mom, wrote an explanation as to why she started using drugs. She lost her father in a car accident. I have no legal representation. All resources have been exhausted. I am trying to help others with the same issues; no abuse, no neglect, nothing but allegations. No facts entered into evidence, no witnesses, no expert witnesses. I took my own psych eval and it was good, but the judge did not allow the doctor to interrpret it, instead the judge critiqued it. Stevens County Washington is the most corrupt area as our prosecutor has stated, yet there is no money for a grand jury investigation. Please keep this plight going. Thank you,

  26. I say YES, to this Marijuana. I dont smoke it myself. I smoke cigars, only. Marijuana has been around for a very,very long time. Why not legalis it?! Booze is legal, why not POT??!! To any who read this, check out this website, ” WHY IS MARIJUANA ILLEGAL “

  27. Like many of us I used to smoke pot as a young person. The main reason was to enjoy its effects. Secondly it was “taboo” and illegal, and quite easy to get. I had a much harder time getting alcohol when I was under 21. Speaking for myself, if I were able to unwind at the end of a stressful day with either a beer(or 12) or a couple of tokes on the old bong, I'm toking. Munchies and restfull sleep after the “burnout” aren't what I'd call a problem. The problem stems from the “Refer Madness” mentality folks have that are against pot being legal. What I fear, is that too many closed minded people will rally and put down any effort to legalize pot. No reasonable person can argue the fact that “pot prohibition” has done nothing but feed black market intrests, wasted countless dollars on enforcing these stupid laws, ruined many peoples lives with lengthy jail sentences for posessing/cultivating a naturally occoring plant. Lets quit flushing BILLIONS of dollars down the crapper trying to enforce these lame laws. Lets stop the flow of BILLIONS of dollars out of this country and into the pockets of drug czars in South America. Lets start using those BILLIONS of dollars to help our own right here in the “Good Old USA.” Infrastructure, school programs, helping the hungry and so many other issues that cry for funds and have little or none to access could do some REAL GOOD. Peace be with you all.

  28. I have been working hard for 6 months analyzing the plight of our country and planet. Instead of introducing a bill to tax and legalize, It will not pass ask Barney Frank or Ron Paul!People want to look tough on drugs plus the DEA will spend 5 or more
    million on a smear and misinformation campaign!Over 1 trillion dollars and 16 million people have been arrested since Nixon’s drug war began in the 70’s And this was contrary to his own bipartisan’s commision Schaeffer report suggesting hemp should be legalized. However What this country needs is industrial hemp.Economically, but morrally, medical marijuana and the waste of precious resources legalize and tax. Rescheduling solves the problem!! My numbers show that 3 million new jobs can be created and help free us totally from oil. Please I admire what you intend, but I have done due diligence lastly, before you do anything, read Jack Herer’s book The Emperor wears no Clothes. That is your due diligence. To win, Allow the proper agencies AMA the university that has applied ten years ago to study it’s medicinal value. Then I promise rescheduling will allow for hemp to be produced and millions of non violent pot users can be paroled and try to put their life together. And tax and regulate kids will have harder time buying drugs and drug money will be taken out of the hands of criminals and into American businesses. Some estimate are a trillion dollar industry! And if it is kept away from for

  29. I’m all for legalizing marijuana. The drug laws failed long ago and there are many people who smoke pot that lead productive lives. Marijuana you only get so high while alcohol you can drink till you pass out and leads to violence.
    I’ve never seen anyone on marijuana do that. Maybe we should outlaw alcohol also. It seems to do more harm. If I had to choose I would rather have marijuana that alcohol. It’s time to legalize it and give it a chance.
    I’m sure there are a lot of good uses for it also.

  30. You f**king idiots. It’s not prohibition. *sigh*

    You think I’m going to agree to this? I don’t even agree with alcohol use. I’ve seen the damages caused by morons who drink too much.

    Now we’re going to have idiots like you people out there smoking too much? I don’t think so.

    Find your own planet to f**k up.

  31. ‘Legalize Marijuana’ I agree with your views on this subject. Not only will the change help our economy but:
    I agree with your views on this subject of legalizing marijuana. Not only will the change help our economy through taxes it will indeed take a load off our prisons (for a non violent crime), our police, and courts. It certainly will add a product that will help bail us out of a financial hole. America’s entire infra structure is out dated and getting ready to collapse. There is work needed to be done to our electrical grids, drains, sewers, power plants, bridges, roads, schools, education, medical facilities, etc.

    Washington State’s citizens have to lead the march to balance our own bills without begging from WA to support us. All of our services are overloaded with these types of repetitious personal choices that hurt no one but the tax payers who have to financially support useless efforts to control a large portion of this country, while allowing a large portion to drink alcohol legally. It is a double standard favoritism toward a drug much worse than marijuana. Many of our politicians, who vote against legalizing marijuana drink like a fish with DUI’s etc. If we tax and sell alcohol and allow it to be legal, marijuana should be taxed and legal as well. Human behavior on alcohol changes much more often to aggressive and violent behavior than marijuana does. It does not take a rocket scientist to notice at a college party the students drinking alcohol would fight, be loud, and totally unreasonable in their decision making processes. Students using Marijuana alone were much more amenable and easier to get along with.

    From what I have viewed regarding drugs and other countries, we (US) are ignorant in how we handle personal choices for our citizens. With all the studies that have been paid for, documented, and implemented, we would not have to run any studies of our own. We would only have to gleam the most productive results for from each study already done. We would only have to implement the results, especially since we would know, within reason, what the results will be. People of every country have the same needs, addictions, and problems that stem from personal choices. If some other government has a better outcome we should listen and pay attention. Governing is suppose to be smart leadership, not who has the most control. Our government is ignorant if they do not heed the scientific proof presented to them.

    Control issues in our government leaders has lead us down to an old boy attitude. Personal opinion should not dictate what will be the best for the countries future. If selling a marijuana cigarette will pay for fixing our pot holes, sell the cigarette instead of a bottle of Tequila, certainly beer and wine in our grocery stores.

    It is about time the politicians representing the citizens govern with common sense. There are more and more laws that take away personal choice. I do not want to pay through taxes to support people put in prison for smoking by people who drink alcohol. That is like saying the addiction to alcohol is allowed, accepted, and legal, only because the people who drink say so. Even the people who drink, and are not addicted, have to see the illogic in that double standard. They have to see there is a way out of this financial crises for our kids and our state while hurting less people than alcohol hurts.

    As for people buying marijuana and it being a gateway drug. Alcohol and prescription drugs are experienced before that child ever hears the word marijuana. Get real here, that is not logical either. Children are desensitized to drugs through parents, friends, people and advertisement, how is that marijuana’s fault? If people who smoke marijuana did not have to purchase their drug of choice from the black market (streets) they would not be around harder drugs. I can only imagine a person who would sell drugs would have more than one kind of drug, like a make-up line having a perfume line also. If that person did not have to be in the drug dealers domain they would not be desensitized to the harder drugs as they would not link it so easily as the same no big deal drug like alcohol or marijuana. If a person had to buy alcohol from a drug dealer the person would see and be around much harder drugs, just like the oppressed marijuana smoker. I have read more reports of marijuana helping people in pain, anxiety, and multi-disorders than I have alcohol helping. Where is the common sense in that? Alcohol has killed a lot of people. The reports that marijuana has harmed someone in an accident usually had alcohol involved. If they were on marijuana they would be going to slow to get to hurt, unlike like driving behind alcohol where they have a propensity to drive faster than they would if only on marijuana. How does that compute to the common sense balance? People has to start thinking for themselves and not follow the party line or the church dictatorship.

    We have a way to help our economy, our state, become self reliant, why aren’t we doing it?

  32. She is absolutely right. This logic should be as plain as the nose on your face. The de-criminalization of marijuana is already happening under the guise of “medical marijuana” so why not just go a little further and use the proceeds from taxation to help those who are addicted to drugs of all kind, including alcohol and tobacco which are already legal and heavily taxed. And what do you say about providing a better education for our children? I’m embarrassed that when the budget cuts come it’s always our children who suffer – deficits, higher tuition costs, can’t even get into college since they are already full. It’s quite sad and we need people like Mary Lou Dickerson who are forward thinkers to get us out of this mess.

  33. If I can buy marijuana in a liquor store, or whatever the situation is..
    I’ll just be happy I’m not discriminated against. I’m not a violent person,
    marijuana makes me happy, hungry, and keeps me sane to be honest.
    A lot of us have had hard lives. Drugs of course don’t make it better
    But if you can hold down a job and pay for your habit whats the big deal?
    We as potheads could get this country out of a recession and make the overall quality of life better.
    Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, I’ve been there and done that.
    Marijuana has gotten me away from all that junk!
    I personally know a lot of people who have died from prescription drugs and alcohol.
    I have never smoked myself to death when I know I have came close to death with alcohol.

  34. Hash is made by knocking the trichomes off the surface of the plant, by mechanical action typically, and by pressing the glands together into a ball or cake. Depending on the method used, the hash may consist of gland heads and stalks and various contaminants, such as the elements mentioned above, and small bits and pieces of plant tissue. Hash made purely from gland heads is very strong and compresses to a hard plastic-like lump with hand pressure. Hash with a lot of contaminants may require heat and pressure to compact. 
    Hashish Addiction

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