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Monday, October 15, 2012

The Only Reason I Need to Vote Yes on I-502

Posted by on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Feel any safer?

A 22-year-old man with severe food allergies died in the Snohomish County jail after a pot bust, and now his mother says she wants to know why.

Michael Saffioti died a day after turning himself in to face a misdemeanor marijuana charge...

All other issues aside—whether Saffioti should have been mixed into the general population, and whether jail officials took his food allergies seriously enough—the guy was in jail on a misdemeanor pot charge, and that's just plain stupid! These are resources that could be used to fight real crime (or, you know, to educate children) instead of being used to ruin (or end) the lives of people like Saffioti.

Yes, Initiative 502 isn't perfect, and yes, it essentially amounts to a state effort to nullify federal law. Yet even if the impact of passing it ends up being more symbolic than practical, that symbolism is important. Our nation's drug policy is more than just a failure; it is head-up-its-ass idiotic.

The fight to end the "War on Drugs" has to start somewhere. And it might as well start at the ballot box here in Washington State.

 

Comments (19) RSS

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BLUE 1
Marijuana should be legal (not for the taxes) but the lesson should still be: don't blow off a fucking court date.
Posted by BLUE on October 15, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
2
I think splitting hairs over the imperfections at the local level pale in comparison to the fact that we need to tell the federal government the situation with pot is changing. Now.
Posted by Swearengen on October 15, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 3
The marijuana charge is still technically a coincidence. Isn't the food allergy death the real issue here?

It's like saying a hooker got into a guy's car and the car crashed and killed the hooker, so we should make prostitution legal?
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 15, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
Pick1 4
If anything they need to address the issue of how he specifically died. Maybe he shouldn't have been in jail in the first place, but the kid didn't deserve to die no matter WHAT he was in there for. Even if he had committed a felony, he shouldn't have died. To politicize this, it should be about taking food allergies seriously or having proper treatments for when something does happen.

Though, personally, I'm never a fan of politicizing a death (I remember just recently we gave Romney shit for doing something similar) especially with such a loose connection.
Posted by Pick1 on October 15, 2012 at 9:12 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 5
@ 3, I think Goldy's point is that this stupid law put a presumably non-violent offender in the position to die of his food allergy. If you want to compare it to anything else that's illegal, you have to stick with the idea that the person died in police custody, not outside of it as in your comparison. (And yeah, prostitution ought to be legal too, now that you mention it.)
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 15, 2012 at 9:16 AM · Report this
6
According to an early Slog post on the subject, enforcing Washington state's marijuana law costs $23 million per year. In the context of the states entire criminal justice system, that's not a lot of money.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 15, 2012 at 9:20 AM · Report this
7
@5 I don't legalizing drugs will result in fewer young men being tossed in the slammer. Alcohol's legal and a large portion of the criminal justice system's resources are spent dealing with the results.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 15, 2012 at 9:24 AM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 8
The key point is that we shouldn't be putting human beings in cages without a damn good reason.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on October 15, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 9
@5,
Ok, change my analogy to "cop busts a streetwalker and while he's driving her to jail the car crashes and she's killed."

I also think prostitution should be legal. And I think drugs should be legal too (and not ONLY marijuana).

But Goldy's post is attempting to shoehorn pot legalization in as the point of an article about negligent criminal justice actions. It's disingenuous
Posted by Urgutha Forka on October 15, 2012 at 9:36 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 10
Hey Goldy, read this.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi http://www.zombo.com on October 15, 2012 at 9:43 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 11
@ 9, I disagree. For one, we don't know all the facts of the circumstances surrounding this man's death. The article doesn't say definitively what caused his death. Asthma is a very serious disease, and I can recall that a temp in my office died of an attack, while she was presumably in full control of her diet. So it may not be a case of negligence at all.

But let's assume that that's exactly what happened, and follow the logic. Man dies in jail after jailers ignore man's well documented milk allergy. Man was in jail after he turned himself in for a misdemeanor pot offense. Man wouldn't have been in jail if it weren't for the legal classification of pot and the charges they brought against the man. Therefore, man wouldn't have died if pot were legal.

As I said, I see your point - this could have happened to a bank robber, and no one would then say that robbery should be legalized. But that's because we're speaking of the difference between a just law and an unjust one. And it's fair to say that this man died because of an unjust law.

If you want disingenuous arguments, check out Mehlman @ 6/7.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 15, 2012 at 9:45 AM · Report this
Goldy 12
@10: I wrote:

Yet even if the impact of passing it ends up being more symbolic than practical...


I didn't say the impact was only symbolic, just that even if it mostly was, that would be enough to get my yes vote. I don't discount the practical impacts.
Posted by Goldy on October 15, 2012 at 10:09 AM · Report this
13
Since there will obviously continue to be cannabis related arrests under I 502, this argument over saving lives is naive to say the least. Will young people continue to be jailed if I 502 passes? YES!!... Will some of those people have medical problems which could prove fatal while in custody? YES!!.. So how does passage of I 502 STOP this? It doesn't. This is a propaganda opportunity par excellence.
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on October 15, 2012 at 10:41 AM · Report this
14
"The fight to end the "War on Drugs" has to start somewhere. And it might as well start at the ballot box here in Washington State."

Just for the record, the fight to "end the war on drugs" has been going on for quite some time. It is purely your egotistical hype to suggest that I 502 is anywhere close to the "start" of this process.

In making this statement, you discredit and disrespect hundreds of activists who have made this political climate possible with tireless work over the last three decades,. Shame on you for trying to hog the credit for Washington.
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on October 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Goldy 15
@14 Blah, blah, blah. Personally, I care more about changing policy than who gets credit. And a state voting to nullify federal drug law would be huge step toward changing the conversation.
Posted by Goldy on October 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
16
Yeah that sort of thinking worked so well with states trying to pass integration laws....please explain an example of how states have voted to nullify federal law that has worked.... and ending alcohol prohibition is not one of them....
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on October 15, 2012 at 11:29 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 17
I like how BC ignores the feds on MJ too, and so does CA and nobody can stop us.

Nobody.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on October 15, 2012 at 12:46 PM · Report this
18
@16

Why doesn't alcohol prohibition count?
Posted by Tawnos on October 15, 2012 at 1:56 PM · Report this
19
Repeal of alcohol prohibition was not driven by states passing laws to defy the federal government. It was driven by nationally organized lobbying groups mostly... It was done with a US constitutional amendment, so I guess when the US congress decides to draft and pass a constitutional amendment concerning repeal of cannabis prohibition we will be on similar footing...
Posted by pupuguru http://www.godsweed.org on October 15, 2012 at 2:06 PM · Report this

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