Washington is said to be one of four states where there are measures that have been introduced towards the legalization and regulation of marijuana. There are also around two dozen other states that are looking into marijuana-related legislation, from medical marijuana to not considering the possession of small amounts of marijuana as a crime.
According to Ethan Nadelmann, the Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance based in New York, this year is considered as “the most active” in as far as state legislatures regarding marijuana is concerned. The Drug Policy Alliance supports the reformation of marijuana laws.
Bills towards the legalization of marijuana were introduced early in 2009 in the states of California and Massachusetts. This month, bills were pre-filed in advance of legislative sessions to be held in January in the states of Washington and New Hampshire.
The marijuana legalization bill in Washington State is sponsored by Seattle Democrat Mary Lou Dickerson. Based on the details provided regarding the provisions of the bill, it will seem like marijuana will be treated in the same way as liquor currently is: marijuana may be sold in state-run liquor stores and consumers who will purchase it will pay a tax of 15% per gram, and have to be aged 21 years or older. The money that will be raised from the regulated selling of marijuana will be channeled into programs for substance abuse prevention and treatment. According to Rep. Dickerson, the bill can bring in as much as $300 million a year, roughly the same amount that is brought in by alcohol.
The Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Allen St Pierre, mentioned that tough economic times have driven lawmakers to take a closer look at the potential tax value that legalizing marijuana may bring.