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Smoke your rights

This story has been edited from its original print version to reflect accuracy.

At 4:20 on Wednesday, April 10, Washington State University Vancouver students filled the Firstenberg Student Commons (FCS) for some “Higher Education”— the recent legalization of marijuana and how it affects them.  As the students filtered into the building, they were greeted by the sound of Peter Tosh’s song “Legalize It.”  The event, titled “Higher Education: Know Your Reefer Rights” was sponsored by the ASWSUV and event organizers provided snacks and sodas for those attending. The event began with attendees munching on Doritos and brownies.

The first speaker, Washington State Liquor Control Board member Chris Marr, spoke about the details of marijuana’s new legal status in Washington, as well as the differences between Colorado and Washington’s marijuana laws.  Marr first broke down the strict regulations that will be implemented when marijuana stores begin to open around the state.  According to Marr, every gram of Marijuana needs to be accounted for.  This is not only for legal liability reasons, but for tax purposes as well.

Since Washington State officials expect the marijuana law (also known as I-502) to generate upwards of $2 billion in tax revenue, the Washington State Liquor Control Board wants to ensure that recreational stores pay the full 25% tax on any and all product.  Along with close regulation, Marr also spoke about several restrictions on where stores will be allowed. Currently, the law states retailers cannot open a store within 1000 feet of “any elementary or secondary school, playground, recreation center or facility, child care center, public park, public transit center, library or game arcade that allows minors to enter.”  One member of the audience questioned Marr as to what qualified as an arcade, but Marr did not have a specific answer.  The issues Marr discussed addressed some of the many gray areas that have yet to be ironed out in public policy, as the legalization of marijuana is new territory for Washington State and indeed the US.

After Marr finished speaking, Clay Mosher, Canada native and associate professor of sociology at WSU Vancouver, took the microphone to speak. Mosher discussed the opposition’s lies and misconceptions regarding marijuana, or as Mosher called it, the “re-demonization” of marijuana.  Mosher pointed out how the media has hyped up stories of overdosing on marijuana, which Mosher described as nearly impossible. While there are people that have reacted badly to marijuana, there have been no cases of an overdose like an overdose on heroin, Mosher told the audience

When Mosher finished the floor was opened for a Q&A session.  During the Q&A, Marr discussed what might happen when the next American President is not as lax on federal marijuana laws as the Obama administration seems to be.

“There are people who think the next administration is going to kick your door in and throw you in prison.  I don’t think so.  There are more people consuming, there is a higher level of tolerance.  I think it would be political unreasonable to assume that there will be a hard core crackdown,” Marr said. Marr went on say that there will still be an ongoing struggle at the federal level, particularly with the ’drug control apparatus.’  Students interested in learning more about I-502 are encouraged to visit lcb.wa.gov.

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