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FOULDS: Seattle PD has progressive chip on collective shoulder
When potheads gathered in Seattle for the annual Hempfest festival on the weekend, the police were well trained and ready, armed to the teeth with — Doritos.
In a deliciously forward-thinking strategy, the men and women in Emerald City blue decided to send a message in a light and playful way.
The department’s decision to have officers hand out bags of Doritos with stickers containing warning and advice was a brilliant move — and one other police agencies everywhere should think of emulating.
Yes, voters last year decided to make recreational pot use legal in the state, but that does not mean marijuana use is a free as the Wild West.
Like alcohol, marijuana remains strictly regulated in Washington (and in Colorado, the other state to legalize recreational use in the November 2012 initiatives).
In fact, people lighting up outside at Hempfest in Seattle were indeed breaking the law as public use of marijuana, like public consumption of alcohol, remains illegal.
However, rather than issue tickets to every Cheech and Chong in the throng, the Seattle PD decided instead to be proactive and funny, by handing out bags of Doritos to revellers.
Affixed to each bag of cheesy delight was a sticker.
“We thought you might be hungry” was the headline on the sticker, below which contained information on the specifics of the new law on marijuana use.
For example, while recreational pot use is legal in Washington, it is still illegal to possess more than an ounce, to smoke it in public, to drive while under its influence and to sell it without a licence.
Not unlike alcohol, come to think of is, which is where Canada should be heading, rather than continue on its path to the failures of the past, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s nonsensical war-on-marijuana approach that has done nothing but prove its failure every step of the way.
While voters in Washington and Colorado decide to embrace common sense and police in Seattle decide to pull back on the traditionally histrionic reaction to pot, Ottawa decides to build more prisons and make organized crime smile all the way to the bank.
Much has been made about federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s admission that he has smoked dope while an MP.
Choosing to break the law while elected and employed as a lawmaker is rather foolish and Trudeau should not engage in any illegal activity if he wishes to remain not only a lawmaker, but one who leads a federal political party.
However, there are lawmakers at all three levels of government who have broken the law by driving faster than the posted speed limit.
The latter is far more serious than Trudeau’s transgression unless you are among the stubborn among us who cling to the belief Reefer Madness was a serious documentary and that smoking a joint will lead to a life of misery — both of which are laughable claims still being argued with serious faces.
Not long ago, I had a good-spirited debate with a former police officer who remains adamant that marijuana should remain illegal as it is indeed a gateway drug that has led many to the horror that is the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.
We had this debate while consuming alcohol, a legal drug far more devastating to person and society than marijuana can ever hope to be.
The point I was trying to make was this: Even if I accept that marijuana is evil and responsible for every poor soul now ravaged by addiction to harder drugs, such a scenario has occurred during prohibition.
If illegal marijuana has given birth to organized crime and all sorts of personal hell, what do we have to lose by trying a legalization/regulation/taxation approach?
We have nothing at all to lose — not even our sense of humour, as demonstrated by those cops in Seattle on the weekend.
Among the “do’s” and “don’ts” on those bags of Doritos was a very relevant “do”: “Do listen to Dark Side of the Moon at a reasonable volume.”