King County Sheriff John Urquhart appeared Tuesday before the senate judiciary committee in Washington, D.C. to assure senators that Washington state is not the wild wild west, and to ask that we get a chance to show that we can do legal pot right.
But there was some push back from another witness, Dr. Kevin Sabet, Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, who listed a parade of potential pot horrors.
"Medical marijuana lollipops, ring pops, pot tarts to mimic pop tarts, are all characteristics of current policies. The result, as mentioned, has been an increase in drug related referrals for high school students. More intentional marijuana poisonings now reaching children as young as five, and the fact that three quarters of kids in treatment in Colorado today report that their marijuana came from a medical marijuana dispensary."
He said that corporations would take over the pot industry and - like the tobacco industry - would immediately start advertising and promoting campaigns to create pot addicts.
Said Sabet, "In a country with a first amendment, in a country that has seen the alcohol and tobacco industries relentlessly target kids - and by the way, target addicts, because these industries do not make money off of casual users - the marijuana industry does not make money off the casual user who decides once every ten years to light up a joint."
"These industries, alcohol and tobacco are included, make money off of addiction. They make money off of the small amount of users that consume the vast amount of the volume. What I worry - is that inevitably in this country American-style legalization is commercialization, is promotion, no matter the best interest that state officials, regulators, liquor control boards, and others try and implement."
To which Sheriff Urquhart responded, "I think there are some urban myths that are floating around out there - that Seattle is going to turn into the Starbucks of marijuana for example; there's going to be gummy bears infused with marijuana. That's just not going to happen in the state of Washington."
"Big business is not going to take over the legal marijuana business. The processors and the growers of marijuana cannot own retail stores, only three retail stores can be owned by one owner, no advertising. (There are) lots and lots of protections in place to make sure marijuana is not sold, marketed or used by people under the age of 21 in any way shape or form."