Seattle mayor calls for nationwide evaluation on marijuana legalization

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin (D) says there needs to be a nationwide evaluation on the legalization of marijuana.

“We need to have a real evaluation nationwide,” Durkin, who is also a former federal prosecutor, told Hill.TV during an interview that aired on Wednesday.

“We need to make sure we do it in a way that decriminalizes people, doesn’t have a criminal justice intervention when its not appropriate and focus those criminal justice resources on those things that are real threats to communities,” she continued.

Durkin added that states need a “unifying force” when it comes to cannabis legalization to ensure consistency in laws from state to state.

“I think it was the right thing to have states that were the laboratories get it right,” she said, citing places like Denver and New Jersey, where the drug has been legalized in some form.

“But now you need a unifying force,” she added. “First of all you need it because activity that is legal in one state shouldn’t be criminal in another state and subject people to prison terms.” 

Washington was one of the first states to vote to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Thirty-three states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

The former federal prosecutor said that even though she was opposed to the legalization of marijuana at first, she said it was ultimately the right move and that lawmakers are still trying to improve regulations.

“I think the way the regulation was done at the outset — we’ve seen that it is working, not perfectly,” she told Hill.TV. “We still need focuses in certain areas like youth use and controlling kind of the growth of marijuana to make sure that there aren’t things like pesticides used and the like.”

The Trump administration has taken a state-by-state approach when it comes to enforcing marijuana laws amid calls for legalization and increasing public support. 

During his Senate confirmation, Attorney General William Barr said he would prefer that Congress enact legislation allowing states to create their own marijuana laws, and now there’s already bipartisan legislation making its way through Congress that would do just that.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act was reintroduced last month. It would recognize the legalization of cannabis and state laws that have legalized the drug through their own legislatures.

—Tess Bonn