It was a scene that reminded one slightly ancient hippie of the good old days of the 1967 Human Be In and the dozens of Grateful Dead concerts he attended over the years. Several Hundred well bundled, happy revelers braved the cold to gather at the Space Needle in Seattle to celebrate the ballot victory in the 2012 elections. In a scene right out of a Times Square celebration before midnight on New Year’s eve, the crowd counted down the seconds until the tower clock struck the magic hour to mark the beginning of legal Marijuana in the great state of Washington and then everyone lit up a joint, a pipe or even a large bong and took their first legal hit.
Marijuana legalization comes with several miles legal red tape. Local newspaper, The Journal Star, broke down the new law:
“Washington’s new law decriminalizes possession of up to an ounce for those over 21, but for now selling marijuana remains illegal. I-502 gives the state a year to come up with a system of state-licensed growers, processors and retail stores, with the marijuana taxed 25 percent at each stage. Analysts have estimated that a legal pot market could bring Washington hundreds of millions of dollars a year in new tax revenue for schools, health care and basic government functions.”
Of course, the vast majority of politicians in Washington, D.C. disagree. Marijuana is still illegal under Federal law and the head of the DEA is a dedicated opponent of legalization and medical marijuana. Although there were no police present at last night’s celebration and no one was arrested, the feds have to option to arrest each and every pot smoker in Washington state whenever the urge strikes them.
All the former heads of the DEA got into the act, urging the states to abide by federal law and continue the destructive and unsuccessful War On Drugs.
“We urge you to oppose publicly Amendment 64 in Colorado, Initiative 502 in Washington, and Measure 80 in Oregon. To continue to remain silent conveys to the American public and the global community a tacit acceptance of these dangerous initiatives.”
Mason Tvert, co-director of the Colorado Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was blunt in his contempt for those who would imprison American citizens for smoking pot.
“It is not surprising that these men, who have made a living off of marijuana prohibition, want their successors to continue profiting from the existence of the underground marijuana market. They just want to keep billions of taxpayer dollars flowing to their buddies. They know that marijuana prohibition isn’t really improving public safety; just as our nation’s streets weren’t safer when Al Capone and his cohorts controlled the alcohol trade.”
Back in the state of Washington the party went on all night. At four am, someone was passing out roses to all those who were still braving the cold and a loudspeaker played the old hit song, ‘Im going to the Chapel” to celebrate the additional good news that same sex marriage was also legal after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the bill yesterday.
Technically smoking pot in public is still illegal, but local police were told to let the party go on and not to issue any summons. Police are asking people nicely to do their smoking at home and police spokesman Jonah Spangenthal-Lee wrote made the following tongue in cheek request on the Seattle Police Department Blotter.
“The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a `Lord of the Rings’ marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to.”
The party was a great success. Celebrants blew pot smoke at TV cameras and did their best to get reporters high on the drifting clouds of smoke. Hempfest volunteer Darby Hageman spoke for everyone at the Space Needle, when he joyfully shouted his thoughts into the night.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store. It’s all becoming real now!”