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Friends in High Places 

Local influencers support legalizing pot

click to enlarge Ben Stuckart says of pot: “By legalizing it, we can regulate it.”
  • Ben Stuckart says of pot: “By legalizing it, we can regulate it.”
On his first ride-along with police officers, Ben Stuckart says he learned a lesson about marijuana laws.

It was in September, before his election as Spokane City Council president, and he and an officer responded to a pair of marijuana calls. But in the “zero-sum” game of policing, Stuckart says the officers could have instead been responding to priority calls.

“If we’re spending resources on enforcement of marijuana laws, then we’re not spending it on [catching] people breaking into cars,” Stuckart says. “By legalizing it, we can regulate it very similarly to how alcohol and cigarettes are regulated.”

New Approach, a group pushing a ballot measure to legalize and regulate marijuana, announced this week it had Stuckart’s endorsement, along with those of Sen. Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, and New Hope Baptist Church Rev. Happy Watkins.

Known as I-502, the ballot measure would allow Washingtonians 21 and up to possess up to an ounce of weed, according to New Approach. The measure, if approved by voters this fall, would also allow businesses to get licenses to grow and sell marijuana. It would also set up a DUI threshold for intoxicated tokers, similar to blood alcohol levels. And if I-502 passes, the state would become an official drug dealer, making rules on quality control and any public health issues before doling out grower licenses.

But Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, pointed out I-502’s obvious flaw. “The challenge is that it contradicts federal law,” Parker says.

He adds that in testimony before the Legislature, county sheriffs have said that the counties do not have the resources to police the proposed marijuana regulations.

“Every sheriff that has testified in front of [the Ways and Means committee] has been against this,” Parker says. “There will have to be a discussion at the federal level.”

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