The debate over Iegalizing marijuana - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

The debate over Iegalizing marijuana

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Yakima, WASH.--A man who has advised the last three presidents on drug policy is visiting Yakima. Dr. Kevin Sabet is the main attraction at this year's "Prevention Summit."

The "Prevention Summit" could not be happening at a more critical time.  The long battle over legalizing marijuana will come to a head Tuesday night. If Initiative 502 is passed, marijuana will be legal and taxed for people 21 and over. Sabet is against the initiative and advised people not to be fooled by the promise of more money within the state.

"Any money the state makes on a federally legal substance is subject to seizure by the Feds and prosecution. So again, I just see this as a risky proposition."

Proponents of Initiative 502 said there will be an influx of billions in the state, and Central Washington could be a big beneficiary. The Yakima Valley is the number two producer of hops in the world, and supporters said cannabis is a cousin to hops.

"If this is the ideal climate to grow hops in, I think cannabis might be the next boom crop for the Yakima Valley too," said Brandon Russell.

Sabet said marijuana is extremely addictive, but others disagree.

"Is a vote for marijuana in terms of being able to buy marijuana at a store worth the risk to kids in terms of increased addiction? Because we know that today's marijuana is not your Woodstock weed of the 60s," said Sabet. "It's far more harmful."

"There's no real addiction in marijuana," said Russell. "There's maybe a mental addiction but there's no physical addiction like you have with a lot of the alcohol or the opiates that our doctors prescribe us for pain."

Recent polls show a slight majority of people are in favor of passing Initiative 502. But of course, we won't know for sure until all the ballots are in and the votes are counted.