Skip to main content

Washington Marijuana Initiative Has Good Week

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #744)

This has been a good week for I-502, the Washington state initiative to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana, and its sponsors, New Approach Washington. Over the weekend, the campaign racked up big bucks with a handful of six-figure contributions, and just before that, a new poll had it with a promising lead.

SurveyUSA polled registered voters last week on the question of whether I-502 should be enacted into law, and 55% said yes, while only 32% said no. That's a 23-point lead, a figure that exceeds the number of undecideds (13%). Even if the undecideds break strongly against I-502, as they are wont to do in initiative votes, the measure merely needs to not shed too much support to still be able to win in November.

The good poll numbers were followed over the weekend by New Approach Washington's announcement that it had received $1.25 million in new donations. The measure had already received $1.7 in donations before announcing the latest round.

The big bucks came from a handful of donors: $450,000 from Progressive Insurance founder and drug reform sugar daddy Peter Lewis; another $450,000 from the lobbying arm of the Drug Policy Alliance; $250,000 from TV travel show host Rick Steves, who had already kicked in another $100,000; and $100,000 from the ACLU of Washington.

I-502 would legalize the sale and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Marijuana and marijuana-infused products would be grown by state licensed growers and sold in state-licensed stores. The measure would impose steep excise taxes on pot sales.

It is opposed by state law enforcement associations, but also by some legalization and medical marijuana activists concerned with its provision that would impose a new limit on active THC in the blood of drivers. Those critics argue that the provision would effectively criminalize driving by medical marijuana patients and other regular users.

It wasn't all good news this week. Word came out late last week that Steve Sarich, the state's most prominent purveyor of medical marijuana, and other opponents of I-502 have filed a lawsuit to keep the measure off the November ballot. They claim that passage of I-502 would be "ruinous" to the state budget and that the Office of Financial Management is conspiring with the I-502 campaign by not yet releasing a fiscal impact statement. But as Holcomb noted, the agency has until August 10 to do so.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


not so fast (not verified)

This is a bad bill. It would steal the entire industry away from mom-and-pop and give it to the state as a monopoly. That cannot be implemented as the Feds will not allow a state government to sell, tax and/or regulate cannabis. It also does not legalize home growing for adults. Washington and Oregon would be better off keeping the laws already on the books, as they are some of the best in the world. 

Tue, 07/24/2012 - 10:57pm Permalink
notspicoli (not verified)

In reply to by not so fast (not verified)

I-502 does not change the state's medical cannabis law. If you are growing cannabis now legally under state law, you can grow it under I-502.  If you participating in a collective garden now, you can continue to do so under I-502. I-502  is separate from the state's medical cannabis law.

I-502 does not have the state selling cannabis. The state would license privately owned and run retail shops. The licensing cost for private growers is small.

Washington's cannabis laws, while relatively progressive, are inadequate. Dispensaries are illegal, tolerated in some places but banned in many others. Minor possession is an arrest misdemeanor, not an infraction. 

But if it can't be implemented, as you suggest, than why the worry? At least we'll get a chance to argue in court and have the government openly acting against the will of the people, which will help propel the movement.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:18am Permalink
Robert G. (not verified)

In reply to by not so fast (not verified)

Actually current federal law does allow the police of a state or municipality to sell a federally controlled substance without registering to do so with DEA, as long as the sale is pursuant to enforcement of a law concerning that controlled substance.  What Wash. would be doing would be equivalent to conducting a police sell-and-bust operation, busting only those not authorized by their state law to buy marijuana.

Fri, 07/27/2012 - 3:18pm Permalink

I-502 fulfills the prophesy that the only ways marijuana could be "legalized" inside of the established systems appear to be the worst possible ways.  I-502 will end up making an even worse fascist plutocracy, and an even worse fascist police state. It is ridiculous to call it "legalization" when you still can not grow your own plants, and have to pay high taxes to a state sanctioned monopoly corporations that tax and tax and tax! The unscientific standard arbitrarily adopted for impaired driving will result in many extreme forms of injustice. Overall, this I-502 demonstrates the situation in America, that its politics is totally corrupted by money, and that everything has been co-opted to become a runaway evil insanity. This is not legalization by any sane standard.  This looks another step toward the psychotic breakdown of pot prohibition, which was always based on huge lies, backed up by lots of violence. There is no radical truth here, only crazy compromises with lies, just like almost everything else in America has been for a long time, while it always got worse and worse. ... Although I am totally in favor of real legalization, if I lived in Washington, then I would have to vote against I-502, because it is fake legalization, that may well pass because too many people will vote for "legalization" without thinking through how much this initiative will actually backfire badly!

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 12:12am Permalink
Science makes … (not verified)

Wow it isn't even close to November and the same ignorant, naive, selfish, and a host of other adjectives I won't use people who smoke weed are opposing another legalization effort? You people are the same people who ruined prop 19 in California. The DEA loves you people because you ruin more legalization efforts then they do. Talk about pot head paranoia ruining EVERYTHING!

Honestly you anti regulation people need to shut up and get your facts straight.

Can someone rational please point me to a link that shows the bill in its entirety. As a scientist who understands pharmacology I want to see if the THC levels are really as bad as the nay sayer's are claiming with regards to driving. I bet you people are completely off base living in a fantasy world of your own delusion.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 5:30am Permalink
not so fast (not verified)

In reply to by Science makes … (not verified)

Cannabis is the peoples' plant. Giving the industry over to state control is worse than prohibition. I'm glad Prop 19 failed, it was a really bad bill too. This is NOT legalization, it is further state encroachment where it doesn't belong. 

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 4:38pm Permalink
Drug scientist (not verified)

OK I want to clear up the myths that are already being generated about the marijuana initiative in Washington. The point of doing this is to stop the myths before they ruin the chances of this law being passed by paranoid pot heads who don't know how to read legal documents and who don't understand basic drug testing science.

The major myth already generated on this comment list is that the driving limit for THC is arbitrary and it will make it impossible for people to drive who use marijuana. I want to say that from a scientific perspective and from reading the document this accusation is completely and utterly false. This is a well written law designed to protect peoples rights from federal drug laws. Please read the law before making such stupid accusations:

The law states that anyone over 21 with >5 ng/mL of THC in their blood can be found guilty of driving under the influence. Now of course many people will be screming and shouting "THC is in your body for a few weeks so can't I be arrested for marijuana even if I smoked a few days ago and drove?". The answer is NO! The reason is is from the following section of the law:

  "THC concentration" means nanograms of delta-9
tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of a person's whole blood.  THC
concentration does not include measurement of the metabolite THC-COOH,
also known as carboxy-THC. "

This is critical. THC disappears largely from the blood stream within a few hours of use. The THC metabolites THC-COOH and its related metabolites are what drug analysts use to prove you were using marijuana. They are the compounds detected in your blood or urine weeks or months later (depending on frequency of use). Another example of this actually comes from the Olympic drug testing committees. They can actually tell how long ago you used cannabis based on the ratio of THC metabolites versus regular THC after taking into account individual variation. This was critical in the Olympics to tell whether or not someone was high while competing or whether they just got high at a party they night before.

Anyway the point is when you know how drug testing works you will see that this claim that the levels of THC is arbitrarily high and thus you should oppose this law is completely rediculuous. Science rules not hysteria.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 7:01am Permalink
Drug scientist (not verified)

So for all you lovely people I have dug up more facts about THC and drug testing. I am an expert in this field I am not taking these studies from nowhere. This is taken from the following scientific publication reviewing the metabolism of cannabinoids

If you smoke a joint that contains 34 milligrams of THC (thats quite a lot enough to get most people very high) your maximum plasma levels of THC will be 140 ug/L which is the same as 140 ng/ml. This will clearly be a criminal offense if you drove after smoking a joint like that and got in your car. However within 2-3 hours the levels of THC plummet to <5 ng/mL putting you clearly within the legal limit. While the THC metabolites (which there is no legal limit for) go up and stick around for well over 6 hours into a few days depending on frequency of use.


So really anyone who is complaining that they can't drive 2-3 hours after smoking is really being irresponsible. Please anyone who is dealing with arguments against this law because of the THC driving limites please spread this message. These myths need to stop NOW! People who smoke weed need to support these laws.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 7:25am Permalink
tyler luengo carter (not verified)

Please don't look over little details and look at the big picture. if i 502 does not pass it will take another couple of years before you get a perfect legalization initiative, maybe longer. i smoke, i have kids, house, job and my truck. never stole,and never put weed before my family. i have a right to smoke without a medical card. i don't have problems with sleep or pain. i like to relax after work with a joint (responsibly so, like beer an ciggs) and not have to worry about my community taking me to jail. i have never liked beer, have a shot once in awhile on rare occasions. but with shit i have to do everyday i cant be drunk(cant control myself.) with weed, smoke it, feel good NO hangover,NO anger NO problem.  please dont be selfish and think you only should be the ones smoking marijuana because some fucking doctor gave you a card. i could get a green card so easy, but i dont because i dont have a medical issue. 

p.s your a fucking retard if you think the goverment is trying to trick the sick people who smoke weed and get them in trouble because they smoke all the time, well i do to all day every day so i guess it effects me too but i say YES TO I 502

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 10:14am Permalink
sicntired (not verified)

I'm always amazed that there are so many so called advocates who come out against these bills.It makes you wonder what they actually want.Is it worse to leave things where they are or not?It won't be written in stone,believe me.I just got my right to grow in Canada and one week after I got the papers Harper is on the news saying that he's taking away everyones right to grow and giving it to his friends in the private sector?He has done all the research he needs(he spoke to the cops,clinics and industry)and we're out without a single consultation from a single patient.This is how things are done in a democracy?This is why a majority government is so undemocratic.No one else can do anything,even if the majotity of the population is outraged.He's loaded the senate with his conservative hacks who jump when he tells them so there is for all intent,no opposition.If you get the chance for total legalisation,grab it.You can fix the flaws later.If you don't run into a born again evangelical christian majority with a hate for all things cannabis.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 11:11am Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified)

"If you get the chance for total legalisation,grab it.You can fix the flaws later" (Emphasis mine - N.)

And that was the lesson that has cost California so dearly. They let the perfect be the enemy of the good. And thus opened the door to the Feds latest savagery. And the dispensaries bear no small degree of guilt for that, by making common cause with the enemy. The Devil always wins in any Faustian bargain. You'd think the dispensaries in WA would have learned the lesson by now, but greed tends to blind anyone.

A relegalized State would be like being in The Nuclear Club; people think twice about messing with you. It would prove to be too politically and socially disastrous to both Obama and the Dems to fight a State that had relegalized as an obvious expression of that State electorate's will. The Feds would have to stay on their leashes, and growl, and whine and surge and bark and snap, but they couldn't do what they wanted in such a State...they'd move on to attack one without a relegalization law.

It cannot be any clearer: Relegalization to the Feds is like crucifix-stamped, hollow-point, garlic-and-holy-water filled sliver bullets would be for a vampire. Going against that express political will of the electorate will be more than political suicide. It would cost an entire political party its' legitimacy.  A risk even the most Machiavellian pol won't take. Pass the damn' law, and clean up any mess later; it'll be much less of a problem than having the Fed jackboot come down on your neck.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 12:57pm Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified)

Just Google the following:

Harper Versailles France 2003

Tell your friends to do the same if they want to see who's holding his leash, and making him bark on commend. These are THE banksters of the world, who've gotten filthy rich off of cannabis suppression due to money laundering. They don't want the game to end, and Harper's their 'bitch'...just as is every President since Eisenhower. That's why despite the almost universal volteface the public has gone through on this issue, the governments of the West seem Hell-bent on passing and implementing even more Draconian drug laws.

Legal cannabis challenges both Big Banking and Big Oil, not to mention Big Pharma, and that's why we're seeing this crazy stepping up of enforcement in the face of the thinking public wanting it ended. But no corp-rat boardroom member can save the bacon of some legislator who's in their pocket...when that legislator lives next door to lots of very angry voters.

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 1:14pm Permalink
m dar (not verified)

In reply to by sicntired (not verified)

Naysayers are happy, for the meantime, with 'as-is'. The only 'as is supporter' must be a trafficker. It took over ten years for people to be allowed to make relevant amounts of alcohol after prohibition ended(for personal consumption).

For those whom are not traffickers, yet think this is not perfect(502), you may want to consider alcohol prohibition concerned 2x-3x the number of consumers... and yet they (consumers) received no better a deal when prohibition ended.

Still, I believe it is not 'for personal use' complainers here, but growers for others consumption. There were any number of shady complainers about alcohol being reintroduced also.

Thu, 07/26/2012 - 4:01pm Permalink
Jeff Brown (not verified)

It seems to me that legalization as written is a move in the right direction. Once it is legalized and if someone grows a few plants in his house or on his property for personal use it is not likely that they would be messed with. This plant has to be free for all its uses. Food, clothing, shelter, medicine, spiritual insight, re-creation. This plant has to be free and legalization is a step in the right direction. If the people vote for legalization the feds have to take notice.

Thu, 07/26/2012 - 12:07pm Permalink
m dar (not verified)

In reply to by Jeff Brown (not verified)

Ya got that right, once legal/regulated, so many will 'bend the law'(grow a couple), there will be no point in chasing every backyard for personal consumption. Consumption can actually have a chance to drop below current user counts as the 'shine' of dangerous behavior will dull, like with cigarettes.

Thu, 07/26/2012 - 4:07pm Permalink
gypski (not verified)

Cannabis has been proven in driving tests not to impair drivers.  Still the state wants a criminal sanction attached to fake legalization and monopolization of marijuana/cannabis.

The state mismanaged or was complicit in the collapse of Washington Mutual yet they want to run a monopoly on marijuana sales with their hand picked, butt smooching growers waiting in the wings to be the only ones allowed to grow a nearly harmless plant. The tax structure is nothing but blatant greed by the state and is punitive in itself.

Federal repeal of alcohol prohibition allowed the individual citizen the right and ability to produce 250 gallons of beer or wine a year tax free yet the state wants to deny this right and ability when it comes to cannabis the least harmful and damaging to society.  Where is there any limit in law as to the personal possession of alcohol in one's home?

That the ACLU even supports this new assault on citizen's civil rights concerning what they can grow and consume knowing all the true scientific facts that cannabis is one of the least harmful substances and plants know to man makes a mockery of the name Civil Liberties Union.  They are siding with the state against the civil rights of the citizens.

There are more holes in this terrible initiative then you'd find in Swiss Cheese. Cannabis belongs to the people just as tomatoes, corn, lettuce, potatoes, beans, or any other herbal, vegetable subsistence plant belongs to the people.

Vote No on I-502, its bad law and further state control over individual rights.

Sat, 07/28/2012 - 1:46pm Permalink
Anonymous59549 (not verified)

These "legalizers but 502 naysayers" may be actual "opponents" from either Washington DC or from your local Sheriff's office trying to divide the 502 supporters.  Stand strong!

It is time to legalize marijuana once and for all.  Do not vote against 502 just because its not perfect.  The alternative to 502 is the status quo illegality and incarceration model.  What's your choice: Strict Regulation or incarceration?

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 4:46pm Permalink
Anonymous59549 (not verified)

These "legalizers but 502 naysayers" may be actual "opponents" from either Washington DC or from your local Sheriff's office trying to divide the 502 supporters.  Stand strong!

It is time to legalize marijuana once and for all.  Do not vote against 502 just because its not perfect.  The alternative to 502 is the status quo illegality and incarceration model.  What's your choice: Strict Regulation or incarceration?

Mon, 08/06/2012 - 4:47pm Permalink

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.