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Washington: Marijuana Legalization 'Largely A Technicality'; Laws Still Target Poor

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Recreational marijuana use has been legal in Washington state since 2012, but just how legal is it? To all appearances, legalization, as implemented in the state, has benefited mostly the wealthy, from those who've been able to afford the expensive licensing process for the recreational pot shops to the well-to-do weed consumers who don't have to worry about being busted anymore.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of ways for every-day pot smokers like me and you to run afoul of the law. For the masses, "legalization" in Washington feels like "more of a theoretical freedom," with cannabis governed under the same laws that prohibit public consumption of alcohol, reports Michael Thomsen at Slate.

"If you're smoking in plain public view, you're subject to a ticket," Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said back in 2012, just as legalization measure I-502 was going into effect.

In Washington state -- as in the rest of America, even "legalized" places -- publicly sharing a marijuana high with friends can land you a court summons, and possibly even a night in jail.

U.S.: Poll Reveals Bipartisan Support Among Voters For Reducing Prison Population

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An overwhelming consensus exists among American voters about how to reduce the U.S. prison population, according to a new national survey focused on criminal justice reform.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday released results from the survey, which reveal an overwhelming consensus among voters of the three leading political parties and various political leanings about how to reduce the U.S. prison population and the path forward to reform.

Commissioned by the ACLU and administered by the Benenson Strategy Group, the national survey was conducted from June 2-6. All respondents were registered voters who are likely to vote in the 2016 presidential election.

The survey found, in part:

• Republicans and Democrats alike say that communities will be safer when the criminal justice system reduces the number of people behind bars and increases the treatment of mental illness and addiction, which are seen as primary root causes of crime.

• Overall, 69 percent of voters say it is important for the country to reduce its prison populations, including 81 percent of Democrats, 71 percent of independents, and 54 percent of Republicans.

• In a sharp shift away from the 1980s and 1990s, when incarceration was seen as a tool to reduce crime, voters now believe by two-to-one that reducing the prison population will make communities safer by facilitating more investments in crime prevention and rehabilitation strategies.

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