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Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 28, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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+ About 556,000 people use marijuana in Washington. Journal file photo continued from page C-4 indicator of criminal and violent behavior, increase or decrease? Will banks and credit unions be able to take the accounts of marijuana businesses? How much money will it deposit into state coffers? Will more youths start using marijuana? Will more peo- ple report becoming dependent on marijuana? What happens to the state's medical marijuana dispensa- ries? Will the federal government, which considers marijuana an illegal drug with no medicinal value and with a high potential for abuse, allow Washing- ton and Colorado to continue on this course in the coming years? The issues that separate the federal government from Washington and Colorado on marijuana are as knotty as a 7-year-old's fishing line. "The pages of history haven't been written on this," U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, told the Mason County Journal. He represents the 10th Con- gressional District, which includes Shelton, Olym- pia and southern parts of Tacoma. "We're engaged in an experiment in Washington and Colorado. In standing up a legal adult recreational marijuana market in a way that's safe for the public, there's no guarantee of success. It will not be a straight line. There will be fits and starts. Fortunately in our state we've had an unbelievably dedicated Li- quor Control Board that has been very focused on doing this right and always, always, always with public safety in mind." ABSOLUTELY UNPRECEDENTED Marijuana legalization has never been tried on this immense a scale. It's not legal in Amsterdam -- it's only tolerated -- and Uruguay, which legalized marijuana in 2013, hasn't begun legal sales. Wash- ington's (and Colorado's) population of pot users and future pot users are the test bacteria in a cultural Petri dish, and the results of this experiment will be analyzed and fought over by governments and their citizens around the world for years to come. It also will deter or encourage other states to pursue legal- ization; Alaska, California and Oregon are among the next states where legalization initiatives could soon be put before voters. In a few years, it's pos- sible that legalized marijuana could stretch along the West Coast from Barrow in the north, hopscotch over British Columbia, and continue from Point Rob- erts onto San Diego. STATE'S MARIJUANA USERS How many people use marijuana in Washington state? About 556,000. That's the number of people in Washington who reported using marijuana or hash (a distillate of marijuana) in the previous month, according to a survey conducted in 2010 and 2011 by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. But, as a 2013 RAND Corporation study pointed out, "... self-re- port surveys typically underestimate consumption. Further, marijuana use has generally been rising, and these figures represent use in 2010 and 2011, not 2013. Thus, the unadjusted figures from the 2010/2011 NSDUH likely understate the number of past-month users in 2013." That 556,000 figure led RAND, which was one of the partners in the Liquor Control Board's mari- juana fact-finding team, to realize that people in Washington consume way more marijuana than once thought. RAND doubled the estimate of the amount of marijuana needed per year to feed the recreational market in Washington. The Washing- ton Office of Financial Management had initially estimated marijuana consumption in the state at 85 metric tons, based on the assumption that 363,000 people in the state were past-month users of marijuana. But the new figure bumped RAND's median estimate to about 175 metric tons. One hundred seventy-five metric tons. That's the approximate weight of 18 full-grown male orcas. The state has nearly 7 million people, so we're likely a few points shy of 10 percent of the state's BANNED SUBSTANCES IN THE UNITED STATES Here's the list of controlled substances under the U.S. Controlled Sub- stances Act, which became law in 1970. The schedule is ranked from the drugs considered most dangerous, Schedule 1, to least danger- ous, Schedule V. Note that alcohol, the most abused substance in the United States, is not listed: SCHEDULE I Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug sched- ules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid dieth- ylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymetham- phetarnine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote SCHEDULE II Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physi- cal dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin. SCHEDULE III Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological de- pendence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule Ill drugs are combination products with less than 15 mil- ligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), products contain- ing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone. SCHEDULE IV Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien. SCHEDULE V Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of prepara- tions containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are cough prepara- tions with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin. Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 - Mason County Journal - Page C-5 population reporting using marijuana in the previ- ous month. Dozens of municipalities in the state have banned marijuana sales, including unincorporated Pierce County, Wenatchee, Kent and Yakima, but politi- cians in Mason County -- after some fits and starts in July -- and Thurston County have given the busi- nesses the go-ahead. Mason and Thurston county voters endorsed 1-502 by nearly identical margins -- 55 percent and 56 percent, respectively. The Shel- ton City Commission and the Mason County Board of Commissioners both approved regulations in late 2013 governing the establishment of businesses where marijuana could be grown, processed and sold. In Shelton, after public hearings and wrangling over zoning rules, which mainly focused on ensur- ing that any marijuana business didn't fall within a 1,000-foot exclusion zone of places such as schools, parks and day care centers, the city commission approved rules that effectively limited those busi- nesses to a chunk of land that's a few blocks north of the Gateway Center, where Olympic Highway North meets U.S. Highway 101. "There's very limited opportunities to locate these facilities in Shelton," Steve Goins, the city's director of community and economic development, told the Journal in November 2013. The Mason County Board of Commissioners also approved regulations governing marijuana busi- nesses, allowing them in rural residential, rural commercial and other commercial and industrial zones. Of the Mason County applicants for retail stores who finished in the top five of the Liquor Control Board's lottery, three of them are in Belfair. However, the Mason County Commission back- tracked after a group of neighbors on Sells Drive near Shelton complained about a marijuana pro- duction facility that had been licensed near their neighborhood. Commissioners voted 2-1 on July 1 to slap a moratorium on such enterprises in ru- ral residential zones, but the board reversed itself three weeks later and lifted the moratorium. STRANGE TIMES, INDEED Focusing on the necessarily mundane matters of creating a legal marijuana industry in Washington -- zoning, banking, licensing, regulations -- makes it easy to overlook what a remarkable position our state and its residents find themselves in the sum- mer of 2014. Who among us could have imagined 10 years ago that we'd be living in a state where an officer could find up to 1 ounce of marijuana on someone and then hand it back to the person? How did we travel from a time when U.S. Com- missioner of Narcotics Harry Anslinger could write in a book published in 1953 that "... marihuana has no therapeutic value, and its use is therefore always an abuse and a vice ... In the earliest stag- es of intoxication the will power is destroyed and inhibitions and restraints are released; the moral barricades are broken down and often debauchery and sexuality results. Where mental instability is inherent, the behavior is generally violent. An ego- tist will enjoy delusions of grandeur, the timid in- dividual will suffer anxiety, and the aggressive one often will resort to acts of violence and crime. Dor- mant tendencies are released and while the subject may know what is happening, he has become pow- erless to prevent it. Constant use produces incapac- ity for work and a disorientation of purpose. The drug has a corroding effect on the body and on the mind, weakening the entire physical system and of- ten leading to insanity after prolonged use." Really? We've moved from then to now because of people who don't use marijuana. For decades, the effort to legalize marijuana was largely driven by people who smoked marijuana. They, understandably, didn't like the idea of being arrested for having it. What shifted in the past 10 to 15 years was the support of people who didn't smoke marijuana and who believed the costs to our society and to our citizens wasn't worth it anymore. In 1969, when Gallup first conducted a national poll that asked whether marijuana should be legalized, 12 percent of respondents said "yes." It's reasonable to sus- pect most of those who said "yes" smoked marijuana. In 2013, 58 percent of those surveyed said they favored legalizing marijuana. When you consider that less than 10 percent of the people in the U.S. reported using mar- ijuana in the previous month, it's obvious that nonus- ers were responsible for that spurt of support. Marijuana legalization and gay marriage, which has followed a similar escalating line of support in the past 10 years, are.legal in this state because of the support from people who are not pot smokers and who aren't gay. And what's driven that change is more people becoming aware that pot smokers, and homosexuals, are our neighbors, our relatives, our friends, and our work colleagues. We've traveled so far that we now have a U.S. pres- ident telling the New Yorker magazine that "I don't think it [marijuana] is more dangerous than alcohol." This is the new state of marijuana.