Sensible Washington to Petition Again in 2011

Sensible Washington, the group behind this year's effort to place the I-1068 marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot, will be back next year, the group announced Friday at the 39th Annual NORML National Conference in Portland, Oregon. The effort this year fell short with organizers gathering about 180,000 signatures, about 60,000 fewer than the 241,000 required to make the ballot.

"We're going to try to put an initiative on the ballot again to remove all punishments for possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana," said Sensible Washington member and initiative co-author Douglas Hiatt, a Seattle defense attorney. "Some people say we're moving too soon, but don’t let that discourage you. There will be about 15,000 people arrested for marijuana in Washington next year. It's worth making a try, and we think we can do it," he said. "We have no choice but to try."

The group also picked up the endorsement of national NORML during the conference. "We are excited to once again enjoy the support of our friends at NORML, the nation’s oldest marijuana reform group," said Hiatt.

The initiative simply removes marijuana from the state's list of controlled substances and repeals associated penalties. It contains no provisions for regulating what would be a newly legal commerce in marijuana because, Sensible Washington argued, state law prevented them from addressing regulation.

Sensible Washington's strategy was challenged by the ACLU of Washington, whose Alison Holcomb released in February a letter saying the organization would not support I-1068 "because it does not provide a responsible regulatory system." Because the ACLU of Washington has a high profile on drug reform issues, its refusal to endorse hurt the initiative.

This year's effort suffered another serious blow in July, when after a brief courtship, the Service Employees International Union declined to help get it over the top. Washington SEIU spokesman Adam Glickman told Publicola at the time the initiative would be "open to a lot of attacks -- attacks around law enforcement issues" and that "losing the campaign wouldn't be very helpful."

But Sensible Washington is undeterred and is moving full-speed ahead on getting the measure on the ballot in 2011. Meanwhile, state and national movement leaders met over the weekend in a private meeting and at a public forum Sunday in a bid to reduce the chaos within the state's marijuana reform movement. Look for a Chronicle feature article in the coming weeks on the state of play of pot politics in the Evergreen State.

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bradybuzduz's picture

What does God think about cannabis sativa

All you have to do is read the Bible and you to can know what God thinks of our current marijuana laws Genesis 1:29,30. It is up to the people to get our legislators, representatives, governors, congressmen, and president to repent of the illegal laws that have been passed in the past.  The laws against marijuana have been created under perjury which is a criminal offense in America, maybe all those who vote against it should be incarcerated for not following God's law.

Religious violations are specious reasons for penalties of law

Your position is only defensible as a religious liberty position. Using the argument that a secular entity violated some religious law is specious, especially in a country like the United States. Furthermore, the idea that a group should institute a religious belief is unhealthy at best.

Essentially, the Controlled Substances Act is not a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution, not to mention others, granted that certain assumptions are held. Operating on the assumption that drugs represent a substantial threat to the general welfare of the public, it is Constitutionally valid to institute something like the Controlled Substances Act. You see, the General Welfare clause in the Constitution, allows for court Justices to rule according to their assumptions on what is good for the public.

 The Controlled Substances Act was instituted according to data that was falsified by vested interests and is continuing to be supported to some degree by falsified evidence. As of current, this law would be on uncertain ground if it were be put up to a Substantive Due Process challenge. In the future, once the data has been refined better, I project that the Controlled Substances Act will miserably fail a Substantive Due Process challenge. It is important for drug law reformer advocates to be conservative in implementing such a challenge due to ideological considerations of the Supreme Court Justice seat holders. If we get a few more moderate or liberal nominees in the next 5-10 years, a challenge may be successful in 10-15 years at the soonest. It is possible, however, that conservative minded judges will not pose such a threat to this particular cause as long as they remain objective in their analysis of the evidence at hand relative to drug use and the general welfare of the public.

Sensible reform

"We're going to try to put an initiative on the ballot again to remove all punishments for possession, cultivation, and sale of marijuana,"

Finally, a proposal for sensible reform!

I hope that the ACLU Washington can put their petty concerns behind them and support Sensible Washington this go around.

We should all be lending out support.

Completely removing marijuana from the controlled category is where we need to go. Trying to get there with "baby steps" will saddle us with more regulatory agencies and un-necessary taxation, and we won't ever get there because the "tax and regulate" model will have effectively prevented all other models from ever taking root.

This is worth a try, even if you are a die-hard tax and regulate fan. We don't have to have uniform laws across the country. This group has the initiative. Get it on the ballot.

Just sent Sensible Washinton a contribution

You can do so too here:

http://sensiblewashington.org/donate/

Thank you

Washingtonians will be grateful for your (and anyone's) contribution to this effort.  We are all praying it will succeed this time.  Unfortunately, a lack of paid signature gatherers was the downfall for acquiring sufficient signatures to get it on the ballot this year, next year we have a running head start, what with all the people who worked on it this year staying active in the movement and all the recently added activists, too.  Once this initiative passes (and it will if makes it to the ballot) WA will be the freest state in the union, in spite of its horrid record of confiscatory taxation of its citizens (thank all the universe there is no taxing/regulating provision for cannabis in this initiative). 

WA single subject case law

"The initiative simply removes marijuana from the state's list of controlled substances and repeals associated penalties. It contains no provisions for regulating what would be a newly legal commerce in marijuana because, Sensible Washington argued, state law prevented them from addressing regulation."

I'd like to clarify that the legal issue isn't whether Washington initiatives can address regulations, as such, which I believe has confused some people. They can and I-1068 did address many regulations related to public safety by not changing them and specifically stating,

<blockquote>(5) The People intend to remove all existing civil and criminal penalties for adults eighteen years of age or older who cultivate, possess, transport, sell, or use marijuana, without impacting existing laws proscribing dangerous activities while under the influence of marijuana or certain conduct that exposes younger persons to marijuana. <<<<<bloc </blockquote>

Indeed, I-1068 addressed commercial regulation indirectly by not creating marijuana-specific commercial regulations or creating any exemptions from general regulations of commerce. I think some protective exemptions along the lines of those for home beer and wine manufacture would be <em>very</em> desirable and would be acceptable to even most of the "tax the hell out of it" people who now support legalization as a means of raising government revenue but still remain indifferent to legalization as protection of people's civil liberties. Until researching the matter this July, I suspected I-1068 did not address such issues because they had a potential for divisiveness among voters and the initiative sponsors where not being candid about this. I wanted the next initiative to contain some protection against legislative sabotage. If the sponsors were not being candid about anything, what they weren't being candid about is that Washington's courts have some very strong biases which would certainly be factors in decisions about I-1068 after passage.

Local 587 v. State, 142 Wn.2d 183  (2000) is the starting place to begin understanding the current state of Washington law on the initiative and "single subject", "subject expressed in title" "rational unity", etc. (http://www.mrsc.org/mc/courts/supreme/142wn2d/142wn2d0183.htm). I could go on about this if I had more time but the bottom line is that it's unreasonable to believe the Washington courts wouldn't have voided I-1068 entirely if it contained both removal of civil and criminal marijuana penalties for adults and contained regulations for marijuana commerce.

To my dismay, it isn't even reasonable to think the lower courts wouldn't have done the same if I-1068 had contained both removal of civil and criminal marijuana penalties for adults and contained some provisions to protect the initiative from legislative sabotage or to expect the Washington state Supreme Court wouldn't have decided those provisions lacked "rational unity" therefore constituting "log-rolling" and entirely voided the initiative on single subject grounds. I think this would be BS but realistically it would be a very big gamble to include such provisions and would almost certainly result in litigation that would keep the initiative a legal nullity. This isn't well worded or anywhere near complete but I've no time now to try and write something better or more comprehensive.

What is needed

What is needed is a companion initiative that would prevent that legislative meddling (which WILL otherwise take place two years after passage).  And perhaps a third initiative to address any regulations, tho I would prefer there be no further regulation.

Sensible Washington just posted this on facebook

SW has accomplished a lot this summer: launching next year's initiative at Hempfest, getting the Governor to call legalization a "legitimate idea," landing NORML's endorsement, etc. As SW moves into fall, we need your financial support to help us legalize cannabis in 2011 and work with the Legislature wherever possible. Anything you donate through PayPal on our website helps. Thanks for your support. -Philip

Here's hoping they get LOTS of donations, so they have enough to pay signature gatherers.

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